Cyber Monday: 8 Ways to Keep Safe While Grabbing Those Bargains

photo credit: AP

Here it comes: Cyber Monday

After all the Black Friday madness and the weekend shopping that followed, you’d think that everyone would be all shopped-out. Not so. Cyber Monday is huge. While once we had to visit brick-and-mortar stores to spend our cash, technology has changed all that. Shopping online is so easy, that it is often the preferred way to shop.

There will be many bargains offered. But don’t let your guard down. Don’t get careless.

Shopping online is convenient, yes, but it also carries some risks. Scammers and hackers will be working overtime to steal from you, and you need to take a few precautions to protect yourself.

Deals are great, but keep in mind that old saying that “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is (too good to be true)”

It is easy to throw together a website, so just because someone presents as a business, it doesn’t mean that they are. Do your homework, and confirm the the business is who they claim to be.

I do a LOT of shopping online, but I admit to sticking to companies that I know, and businesses that I am familiar with. I’m a ‘better safe than sorry’ kind of person. 🙂

Bottom line: don’t just click through and hand off your credit card to any-old website. Proceed with Caution.

The Better Business Bureau has come up with a list of 8 ways to protect yourself online:

1. Shop on trustworthy websites. Check a seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. Look for the BBB seal and click to confirm the link is valid.

2. Beware of “too good to be true” deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Go with your instincts and don’t be afraid to pass up a “deal.”

3. Beware of phishing. If you receive an e-mail claiming problems with an order that asks for personal information or financial information, BBB recommends calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

4. Confirm the website is secure. Always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before making an online purchase. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “properties.” to see the real URL and if the site is not encrypted.

5. Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed if the item is never received. Many card issuers also have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.

6. Review the return policy. A return policy should be clearly listed on the company’s website. Be sure to read all conditions associated with the return policy, specifically how long you have to return an item. If you do not see the return policy listed, contact the company and ask them to provide you the information in writing.

7. Verify when to expect shipped item. Pay close attention to the estimated delivery time to ensure you will get your item before Christmas. Federal law requires that orders made online be shipped by the date promised, however, if no delivery time is stated, stores have up to 30 days to get the item to you. And if it takes 30 days to receive the item you’re purchasing on Cyber Monday, you will not receive the item in time for Christmas.

8. Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or an email confirmation. Print and save any confirmations for future reference.

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15 thoughts on “Cyber Monday: 8 Ways to Keep Safe While Grabbing Those Bargains

    • Each year I seem to buy more and more online. The convenience makes it hard to pass up. But mostly this is not ‘browsing’ buying (I agree I’d rather do that in a store). I buy things online that I already know (like a dvd or pet supplies), or hard-to-find items. But you are right to be cautious!! I use probably only about 5 or 6 websites and I feel very safe with them.

  1. One cannot read and reread these ideas and warnings too many times. I should be safe if I follow all of them.

    But I don’t own a credit card. 😦 Neither my husband nor I have had one for over …. at least 25 years. I bet you don’t believe me. lol

  2. elizabeth says:

    Timely advice. I tend to stick to tried and true sites.

    On a side note, I went to the food-court at the mall the other day and the burger place credit card scanner was broken so the guy behind the counter was using a mobile phone to take payments. I told him no thanks. My son said he’s experienced it before, but it really freaked me out. What do you think?

  3. I’m not a big fan of shops and malls so online is awesome. I am even tempted to try the grocery options – I know, that is the height of laziness. I have heard a lot of my friends say that they’re going online for Christmas shopping this year. You are right though, one has to be so careful. I stick to 3 or 4 reputable sites that I trust and their service is excellent.

    • Same here. I have a few places online that I use often. I wouldn’t just go googling products and sending off my credit card willy-nilly. As for that grocery thing …. I know someone who does that, and absolutely loves it!

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