With Cyber Monday, you don’t have to camp outside in the cold overnight so you can be the first person busting through the doors like on Black Friday. But you still may get trampled to a pulpby cyber scammers waiting for their prey.

2DHow can you avoid these predators?

  • You know that old mantra: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Be highly suspicious of outrageously great deals, and also assume that e-mails that link to unbelievable savings are scams. You may think it won’t hurt to just “check it out,” but consider the possibility that simply clicking on the link will download a virus to your computer.
  • Back up your data. Shopping online means it’s inevitable that you’ll stumble upon an infected website designed to inject malicious code into your computer or phone. “Ransomware” will hold your data hostage. Backing up your data in the cloud to Carbonite protects you from having to pay the “ransom.”
  • Say “No” to debit cards. At least if you purchase with a credit card, and the sale turns out to be fraudulent, the credit card company will likely reimburse you. Try getting your money back from a scam with a debit card purchase. Good luck.
  • If you’re leery about using a credit card online, see if the issuer offers a one-time use credit card. If someone steals this one-time number, it’s worthless for a second purchase.
  • Make sure you understand the online merchant’s shipping options.
  • When buying online, read up on the retailer’s privacy policy.
  • When completing the purchase, if the merchant wants you to fill in information that makes you think, “Now why do they need to know that?” this is a red flag. See if you can purchase the item from a reputable merchant.
  • Never shop online using public Wi-Fi such as at a hotel, coffee house or airport.

If the retailer’s URL begins with “https” and has a padlock symbol before that, this means the site uses encryption (it’s secure). If it doesn’t, don’t buy from that merchant if the product is something you can buy from a secure site. Of course, I don’t expect, for instance, Veronikka’s Death by Chocolate Homemade Cookies to have an encrypted site, but if you’re looking for more common merchandise, go with the big-name retailers.

Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft. Learn more about Carbonite Personal plans. See him discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

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