|Five Tips for Safe Online Shopping|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||Nov 25, 2012, 6:40 PM|
No, you aren't going to get toppled by someone racing you to get that doorbuster deal, but Cyber Monday comes with its own host of dangers.
Online Black Friday shopping was already up 26 percent from last year according to comScore and if you review some of the major online security threats from the past year, you'll realize that this is the year to start being incredibly vigilant about how and where you are typing in your personal data online.
Before you fork over your credit card number and other info, make sure you're following these five safety tips.
1. Make sure you are buying from a secure site. "The first thing you want to do is look at the URL and make sure it says HTTPS," says Natalie Severino, a security expert at Trend Micro. Along with the HTTPS in the web address you want to make sure you see the small padlock icon in the address bar when you get to the payment steps. Both of those will indicate that you are shopping on a secure site, which has a trusted and safe backend system.
2. Make sure your security software is up to date. It seems like the obvious and boring tip, but it really is important. Every security expert we spoke with stressed that keeping the anti-virus software up to date and running should stop you from going to an unsafe shopping site.
3. Don't trust all those emails. If you're like any of us, your inbox is flooded with more "great Cyber Monday deal" messages than you can stand. But not all those emails are safe. "Some of the emails and the deals seem too good to be true. And they are," says Claudia Lombana, PayPal's Shopping Specialist. "The best thing to do is not to click the link, and go to a new webpage and try and go to it that way. It is only clicking links from those direct e-mail sources that can get you in trouble."
4. Use a different password at every site. If you can learn anything from this year's online security disasters it is never use the same password across your accounts or sites. If you are prompted to sign up for a new account to make a purchase make sure to create a new password. Both Lombana and Severino suggested a password with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Christina stressed to stay away from your name and family names; social media has made those passwords easier to crack.
5. Be even more mindful when shopping on your phone or tablet. According to PayPal, there was a 193 percent increase in mobile shopping on Black Friday 2012 over last year. And that's just the start -- the number of people shopping on their phone or tablet this holiday season is only going to go up. The experts say, however, that those mobile shoppers need to be even more vigilant about security. "The number one thing when shopping on a mobile device is to password-protect the phone or tablet," Lombana said. Also, make sure to keep in mind all the other tips and always make purchases over a secure and password-protected WiFi network.