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Cyber Monday: 6 tips for safer online shopping

November 1, 2021

There's one day of the year that savvy holiday shoppers look forward to: Cyber Monday. The day is a boon for online deal hunters, but also for scammers.

That's partly because the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest times within the most hectic shopping season of the year. In 2020, 186.4 million consumers shopped that holiday weekend, according to data from the National Retail Federation. And a growing share of that shopping is happening online.

But you may be able to avoid having your holiday fun spoiled by an identity thief or financial fraudster if you take a few simple steps to help you shop safely online.

Online shopping tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

1. Do your holiday shopping with reputable retailers.

Once you've made your holiday shopping list and checked to see who's been naughty or nice, decide where to shop. Stick with retailers you know and trust. Bookmark their sites to go there directly rather than clicking on offers in ads, emails, or text messages. That will help protect you from realistic looking fake stores designed to look just like the sites of trusted retailers.

2. Only shop on secure sites on Cyber Monday.

If you're sticking with well-known retailers, their sites should be secure. But if you're shopping at smaller or independent shops, look for a little lock icon in the top left corner of your browser bar when you're on the site. A secure site's URL should start with HTTPS and not HTTP. You might have to click on the URL to see the HTTPS. Secure sites use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to keep data in transit hidden from hackers. 

3. Learn to spot holiday shopping scams.

Take a minute to brush up on common Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday shopping scams so you can avoid falling for one. Common scams include advertising amazing "deals" and setting up fake online stores to collect credit card numbers and other personal info from unsuspecting shoppers. Stay away from offers and sales that seem too good to be true.

4. Safeguard store accounts with strong passwords.

Did you create an account, instead of checking out as a guest? Make sure to protect that account with a strong password so a hacker can't get into your account, steal your information, or make a purchase with your card. Keep in mind, it's also a good idea to decline to save your card information on a retailer's site to keep yourself even safer. Norton Password Manager can generate secure passwords, store them, and autofill them when you want to shop.

5. Don't shop on public Wi-Fi.

It may sound nice to do your holiday shopping at a local coffee shop, but shopping online from your laptop, tablet, or phone while connected to public Wi-Fi can open the door to hackers. Public Wi-Fi connections are often unencrypted and unsecured, leaving you vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack that could allow a scammer to grab your name, address, credit card number, and other personal information. If you must shop on public Wi-Fi, make sure to turn on your Norton Secure VPN included in your Norton 360 plan, which creates a “tunnel” that allows you to transmit your encrypted data securely.

6. Check for fraud after your holiday shopping.

Just as Santa's always watching, you should be too. During the holiday season, take a few minutes to keep an eye on your bank and credit accounts. Glance over the transactions, make sure the amounts are correct and look for fraud. If you spot an unauthorized transaction, call your bank or card issuer right away.

Follow these tips, and your holiday season should be merry and bright and free from the scammers who are waiting to take advantage of shoppers in the holiday spirit.

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Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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