Avoid red flags when shopping online during Cyber Monday

ID-100198092 (1)Black Friday is over, but the holiday shopping season is just getting started. For many, the biggest shopping day of the year is now Cyber Monday. It’s a great chance to find bargains and avoid the crowds.

According a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), 56 percent plan to shop online, the most in the survey’s 13-year history.

If you’re one of those people, Your BBB wants you to get the real deal and avoid getting ripped off. Be on the lookout for these red flags:

  • Little to no basic business information listed. The online store should have phone numbers and physical addresses of the business, make note of these before you buy. Be cautious if this information is not available as it may not be a legitimate business.
  • No signs of online security. Some attackers try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear authentic. Don’t enter your personal and financial information, unless a site includes a URL address that begins with “https” or a closed padlock icon on your web browser’s address. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured.
  • Too good to be true deals. Online stores that offer merchandise for unusually low prices should raise concern. Before you jump on a bargain, visit bbb.org and check a business’ BBB Business Review to see how they respond to complaints, customer reviews and any advertising concerns.

It’s important to secure personal information when shopping online, BBB offers this advice:

  • Use safe payment options. Credit cards are generally the safest option because they offer protection if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. Also, unlike debit cards, credit cards may have a limit on the monetary amount you will be responsible for paying if your information is stolen and used by someone else.
  • Keep a paper trail. Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of the sale, and copies of any email exchange with the seller. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized charges. If there is a discrepancy, call your bank and report it immediately.
  • Turn your computer off. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, many people leave computers running and connected to the internet all day and night. This gives scammers 24/7 access to your computer to install malware and commit cybercrimes. To be safe, turn off your computer when it’s not in use.
  • Beware of phishing. If you receive an email claiming problems with an order that asks for personal information or financial information, call the contact number on the website to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
  • Keep a clean machine. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Check the seller’s privacy policy.  Some sellers resell personal information, buying preferences, and other data to market research companies, telemarketers, and spammers. Read carefully and always make sure that you are opting-out and not opting-in when asked whether you want to have your information shared with third parties.