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Geek Girl Report: Tips For Safe Shopping on Cyber Monday, And The Rest of the Year

yourdon, Flickr

In case you didn’t get your fill of shopping on Black Friday/Thanksgiving, today is Cyber Monday, where you can find all the good deals from the comfort of your computer, without having to brave all the crazed crowds or sub-freezing weather of the early morning. But just because you’re avoiding the potentially violent crowds doesn’t mean online shopping is completely safe. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when you do your online shopping this holiday season.

Stick With Sites You Know

It’s one thing to drive from one store to another looking for the cheapest price. But when it comes to online shopping, it gets a bit…trickier. Normally, I just stick with the big-name E-commerce sites like Amazon, or with the major retailer’s websites like Best Buy, Target, and Barnes and Noble. If you do venture out into the unknown, be on the lookout for two important things. 1.) Look for an “S” in the HTTP portion of your URL address .(it should look like this: 2.) Look for a small lock icon in the address bar. If you see both, that means the site is encrypted and secured.

Make Sure You Protect Your Computer

It’s dangerous to go online shopping alone, so take some good antivirus software with you. If you have solid, up-to-date antivirus software, it will usually steer you away from the unsafe and “shady” sites. At the very least, make sure you’ve got protection against spyware, malware, and that you have good spam filters and a secure firewall.

And while we’re talking about protecting your computer, make sure you also use strong and secure passwords on all of your shopping sites, and avoid using the same password twice.

Save the Shopping For Your Home Computer

Though it might be tempting to go shopping online while you’re at work, you should really avoid online shopping on a public computer, or a public network for that matter. Going shopping on a public terminal leaves you wide open for someone else to come along, swipe your information, and go on their own little shopping spree, so save the shopping for when you get home. If you want to shop on the go with your laptop, stick with hot spots you know are secure, or you can opt to purchase your own private Wi-Fi connection.

Watch Out For Deals via E-mail

Particularly, watch out for unsolicited E-mails. This is a prime time for identity thieves to try and scam folks out of their personal information by pretending to offer you some unbelievable deal.  NEVER give out any of your personal information in an E-mail, including credit card number, social security numbers, or even birthdays. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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