We all love finding a great deal during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, that also means it’s prime time for criminals–every year we hear about someone being attacked or hacked. Regardless if you choose to shop in-store or online, here are 15 safety tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to help keep you safe in 2019.
- Being Aware of Your Surroundings
Don’t leave your items unattended, keep a close eye on any children with you, and never carry too many items at once. You should also keep a watchful eye when you are walking from the store to your car. If you are alone, ask someone from the store to walk with you to your vehicle to ensure your safety. Make sure to park in a well-lit area or next to security cameras.
- Credit or Debit Card Security
If you want to ensure that your credit cards are protected from any data breaches during this time, you should consider using a money order or a one-time use credit/debit/gift card. For safety reasons, you should avoid bringing just cash with you for these purchases. Use a credit card, PayPal, for your online purchases versus other debit cards. Almost all credit cards have fraud protection, meaning if there is a data breach and your card’s information is taken, you won’t be held responsible for any of the charges.
- Storing Your Products
If you are going to multiple stores, don’t leave the packages in your car sitting in plain view to anyone who might walk past. Put packages and any other valuables in the trunk, where they are hidden and locked.
- Knowledge of Whereabouts
If you are shopping with a group, be sure you have each member’s contact info to reach each other if you get separated or for emergencies. You should also plan a central place and time to meet to check in on each other. If you are shopping alone, make sure someone knows where you are at all times -let them know your location and when you enter and exit.
- Fuel Your Body
Make sure to pack a bottle of water and some light snacks for your shopping trip. This will help prevent you from experiencing dehydration or extreme fatigue.
- Email Security
Do not click on an email if you do not know the sender’s email. 90% of all hacks happen by the user clicking a malicious email link or open an attachment with a virus. If you are signed up for brand emails, compare them to previous emails that you have received from them. Make sure the email address match and have the same branding.
- Shop with Brands You Know
Shop with brands you know and trust and stay away from deals that seem too-good-to-be-true. If you see a company you’ve never heard of offering crazy deal, chances are it is a scam. Stay away from these kinds of sites and deals. This would also include avoiding shopping on overseas websites.
- Secure Websites
A secure website will have https:// in the URL. The “s” in https is what lets you know the site is secure. While sites that don’t have this can be safe, it offers an extra layer of protection to online shoppers. Websites that aren’t all that well put together or feature dubious design elements may pose multiple problems. If a website isn’t professionally designed, that might mean that the owner of the site isn’t a professional either.
- Secure Checkouts
Vendors who have encrypted checkout processes usually have a stamp somewhere on their site verifying their encryption technology. Many sellers will give you the option to use a third-party payment company like PayPal. Purchases you make with these methods are generally eligible for buyer protection.
- Read Reviews
One of the best ways to stay safe as you are shopping online is to benefit from the experiences of others who have purchased from this website before. Make sure that you always read product reviews and ratings before making any purchase. You can also research companies on chat rooms, article reviews, and Google ratings.
Remember that when you’re shopping on sites like Amazon.com, you have access to a vast marketplace. Make sure that you pay attention to who the actual seller is, however. Even though Amazon may be trustworthy, the seller of a specific product may or may not be. Each will have ratings and customer reviews. Newer companies may not have been rated as many times as more established companies. That doesn’t mean they’re untrustworthy, but you do take a risk when there is less information available.
- Personal Information Requests
Requests received through email are almost always phishing scams. Never follow up on these requests directly or click on any hyperlinks in the emails. Even if the request seems like it may come from a legitimate source asking about your Black Friday order, do not click the links or images. Instead, type the website address directly into your browser and navigate from their website by logging into your account. You can always contact the seller to confirm that the request is real. Please note that no seller should ever ask you for your social security number. If a site does, it is probably a scam.
- Password Management
Make sure that you use strong passwords and change them up. If a hacker manages to get into one, they probably can figure out how to get into the rest since you made it easy with a poor password. A secure password keeper is a must to help remember your password. You can read more about our recommended passwords policy here.
- Social Media Shopping Scams
Your email account isn’t the only place you can receive phishing messages. Customers are often targeted on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Many times, a scammer will send you a message that looks like it comes from the social media service itself, but the links in the message will take you to fake pages. Social media sites will never ask you for your user name and password to verify your account through a private message. Be alert when you receive messages from unknown senders. Be sure to hover over the link you are going to click to make sure you are not being sent off-site to a malicious URL. If they successfully find your login information, they may be able to reverse engineer your login usernames and passwords for your credit cards and bank accounts, learn more here.
- Terms and Conditions
In situations where you are shopping with a relatively new and unknown vendor, it is essential to read the terms and conditions for purchases. Look for transparency on the vendor’s website or seller’s page, including clear terms of service, shipping, and refund information. Professionally stated, straightforward terms and conditions are often a sign of good faith. If the terms are unreadable, unclear, or absent altogether, choose another vendor.
- Contact Customer Service
A tip to verify whether a company is trustworthy, is to contact them directly. If you have a question or concern, get on a live chat if it’s available, send an email, or call the company on the phone. If you are greeted by a friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient representative who politely and thoroughly addresses your concerns, you may very well have found a reputable seller. If you receive dodgy customer service or cannot get hold of the company, then you should probably stay away.
Customer service is one of the most often overlooked features of an online store, but it is arguably the most important. Remember, if you do have a problem with your purchase, you are going to be dealing with the customer service team to get the issue resolved. The quality of the service determines whether or not issues will be resolved in your favor, or at all.
Finally, keep in mind that some tech support scams do exist. If a tech support person cold calls you about a purchase you have made, be sure to hang up and call the company back directly. Do not let anyone who makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable get you to hand over private information.
If you follow these 15 safety tip for black friday and cyber monday, you will be more likely to have a secure and safe holiday shopping experience in 2019. If you shop in stores, remember to stay alert and observe safe shopping practices. If you shop on the Internet, use these tips to enjoy the convenience and speed of online purchasing without sacrificing safety. Want to learn more about Cybersecurity?