Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving when most Americans return to work after the long Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. It is the day when stores generally have their best online special deals.
We all know the precautions to take when shopping at the local malls -- carefully secure your credit card after making a purchase, put your wallet in an inside pocket, don't carry your purse loosely, be aware of your surroundings when walking to your car, have your car keys ready, don't leave your valuables unattended, etc.
Whether you have given up fighting the crowds and long lines in the brick and mortar stores or are just looking for online shopping bargains, safety precautions are also required when shopping online, whether it be Cyber Monday or any other day of the year.
Protect Your PC:
Before you start shopping, take care of basic security. This includes having a software firewall and up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software.
- If your antivirus software license expired, either renew the license or uninstall it and download and install Microsoft Security Essentials. (If the replaced antivirus was a "security suite", be sure to activate the Windows Firewall when uninstalling.)
- Now run a full system scan with your updated antivirus software.
- Next, scan with an anti-malware software. If you do not have an anti-malware software, my favorite is Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware. Another popular program is SUPER AntiSpyware.
- Check for and install Security Updates.
Protect Your Credit:
Your computer is ready and so are you. But, safety precautions do not end with your computer. Now the onus is on you to protect your credit.
- Shop at reputable websites. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it is probably a scam. Customer evaluations are available at sites like Epinions.com or BizRate to help you determine the legitimacy of a company.
- ONLY do your online shopping from home and never from an insecure public WiFi spot or public area like the local Starbucks.
- To complete your purchases, checking out will require creating an account. It is not advisable to store your credit card and other personal information on the website.
- At checkout, the site web address should be https: and there should be a closed padlock there or in the lower right corner of your browser. If not, forget about it. You will be giving away your credit card information!
- It is best to use a "true" credit card, rather than a debit card as it is better fraud protection.
- At the completion of your order, print or make a screen copy, including the confirmation number, as a receipt for your purchase.
Finally, a couple of money-saving tips that may result in additional savings when you shop online.
- Be wary of most of the "coupon sites". However, there is at least one that I am aware of that appears to have a good reputation and is "McAfee Secure":
"Hundreds of well-known online stores like Barnes and Noble, Staples, and Overstock.com have a place within their shopping cart for a "coupon code" that gives a percent or dollar amount off your purchase. If you don't know the code, you can't take advantage of the discount. You can find these secret discount codes and coupon codes listed on many sites across the internet but the problem with these sites is that they're usually personal homepages and they don't maintain their lists! Currentcodes.com has a full-time staff of trained individuals whose only job is to find new coupon codes and discount codes and verify the accuracy of the existing database. We don't flood you with ads and we don't throw deals in your face. No hype, just current codes."
- Check CyberMonday.com which includes special offers, including free shipping, at hundreds of online merchants. On the actual Cyber Monday, the site will provide hourly specials and exclusives from popular online retailers. A portion of the proceeds from CyberMonday.com supports the Ray Greenly Scholarship Fund.
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