WASHINGTON — If you didn’t get in enough shopping over the long holiday
you’ll be happy to hit more sales on Cyber Monday.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is serious business. Last year, consumers
their way to more than $2 billion of Cyber Monday purchases online.
But amid the good deals, the scammers are in wait, too, and that’s led New
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to draw up a list of tips to help
fight off the crooks:
- Shop only on secure Internet connections: Do not conduct any
transaction that involves personal, financial or credit card information while
using an open and unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Unsecured connections are common
public spaces such as transportation hubs and municipal hotspots, and in
and coffee shops.
Be careful not to shop, conduct business or send sensitive
personal information out on these networks because identity thieves often
out open networks seeking victims. Shopping and other activities that involve
sensitive information may be performed safely on password-protected wireless
networks, virtual private networks (VPN) or on hardwired Internet connections.
- Only process payment on HTTPS web pages: When entering payment
information online you should verify that HTTPS is in your address bar to
yourself from identity thieves and cyber criminals. URLs that begin with
instead of the standard http:// are secured by SSL, an Internet security
Web pages served over SSL help protect you by encrypting sensitive
such as credit card numbers, during the transaction.
- Do not be tricked by confusingly similar website and domain names:
particular attention to your retailer’s URL when shopping online. Scammers use
variants of a known company’s Internet address to try and lure users into
fake websites. They often target users through email or social media. Avoid
clicking on links from email or social media sites. Watch out for websites
URLs that differ slightly from those of legitimate online retailers, as well
links that appear genuine but direct your browser to a completely different
To ensure safe shopping online, type the URL of your desired retailer directly
into your web browser — and watch for typos.
- Protect yourself by using credit cards: With the advent of point-
sale malware and rampant data breaches, identity thieves are now more
sophisticated and dangerous than ever. If you are going to make purchases
you can best protect yourself from the risks of identity theft and fraud by
credit cards. Credit cards generally offer better purchase protection and
dispute resolution than other methods of payment. Debit cards link directly to
your bank account, potentially threatening your entire account balance. Some
banks also offer temporary credit card numbers with a set purchase maximum,
may be useful for some transactions or some consumers. Remember that credit
cards charge high interest rates, so it is best to use credit cards for only
purchases you can afford.
- Be wary of too-good-to-be-true contests and prize promotions:
should be suspicious of any emails, messages or posts on social networks
giveaways or contests that seem too good to be true, such as free high-value
cards, tablets and smartphones. These “contests” are often scams designed to
consumers out of money and/or to collect consumers’ personal information for
resale. Genuine sweepstakes and contests are commonplace on the Internet;
you should avoid any contest or promotion that requires you to pay money or to
perform any sort of financial transaction. Also, think twice before
in promotions that require entrants to register with multiple third-party
websites; often these are ploys to build marketing lists. Promotions that
users to provide more than simple contact information may even be phony or run
scammers who resell consumer information to collect referral fees!
- Read the fine print: Broadly worded promotional offers and
advertisements often mislead consumers into paying full price for items they
believed were on sale. Consumers should carefully examine Internet deals by
reading any and all fine print in the promotional materials, identifying the
brand and model number on sale. Consumers should also avoid bait-and-switch
advertisements or promotions that lure consumers with basement prices that are
guaranteed to be in stock. Fine print stating that quantities are limited is a
tell-tale sign of this bait-and-switch tactic.
- Watch out for hidden shipping costs: Internet shoppers will
find great deals this holiday season. It is common practice for Internet
to advertise prices that do not factor in shipping and handling. This makes
Internet retailer’s pricing appear lower than what the consumer will actually
This holiday season, consumers should be sure to examine all shipping and
costs before committing to any online purchases. When all costs are
what you may have thought was a great Internet deal may be more costly than
Check out this cybersecurity tool to keep track of whether a site you visit is safe or not: mywot.com