As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States I was thinking about how many people will start online shopping soon. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, but the Monday after is called Cyber Monday. A lot of people will get up at crazy hours on Friday morning to be the first in line to get great bargains at every store imaginable. I do agree that getting hundreds of dollars off televisions and other electronics can be a great motivator.
As for me, I would prefer to sleep in on Friday and spend the time with my family. I would rather go online on Monday and go after all the bargains there. I don’t have to wait in lines, fight with people over merchandise or generally go crazy in a store. I know this is a ritual with some, so more power to you.
With all the online shopping expected, you can be sure the online scams will come fast and furious. Hopefully you are aware of most of the common ones, like phishing, Nigerian emails, “click here for a great offer”, your FedEx package arrived, etc. Online scammers try to game the search engines with so-called legitimate bargains. You will search for a bargain on something and the link takes you to a site that looks legitimate. Check to see that this is a legitimate merchant before proceeding. Some are just sites with malware and all kinds of nasty things.
The newest one on the block is Smishing or “SMs phISHING”. Similar to regular phishing, this scam sends a text message to your cell phone and either asks you to click on a link or call a phone number. It might be for a bargain that is only available for the next 5 minutes. A popular one making the rounds says your ATM card was suspended, so call this number to reactivate it. They are bogus and can cost you lots of money.
Here are some tips to keep you safe while online shopping:
- Don’t click on links in advertising emails
- Make sure a site uses SLL during any online transaction
- Don’t log into an account on a website from an open wireless network
- Make sure all the software on your computer is up to date with critical patches
- Use current and updated antivirus software
- Don’t respond to an offer that seems too good to be true
- Only shop at legitimate online merchants
- Don’t fall for smishing scams
- Ignore emails from people or companies you don’t know
- Have fun
Shopping online is a great way to save time and money, so enjoy yourself, but keep sage.
From all of us, have a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Holiday season.
Photo credit Tim & Selena Middleton