Cyber Monday: Protect your identity when shopping for the best online deals

December 1, 2019 | by BMI Staff

Cyber Monday began in 2005 after the National Retail Federation determined that the day of record online sales needed an official title. Cyber Monday is a fierce competitor of Black Friday, particularly among younger consumers. The lure is clear: you pay the same price for the same items, but you get to stay in bed instead of risking your life in department stores. Seems like a pretty sensible trade, right? Unfortunately, Cyber Monday poses its own slew of threats to consumers when it comes to their personal information. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported nearly 16,000 victims of credit card fraud in 2016, which resulted in a collective loss of more than $48 million for shoppers in the U.S. This is why we came up with the following list of tips for keeping your information secure while you shop for those unbeatable online deals. 

  1. Steer clear of websites you haven’t seen before.
    In 2016, nearly 119,000 unique phishing sites were reported on Cyber Monday. Similar to the way thieves target department-store shoppers on Black Friday, online scammers set up shop on this holiday to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Consider sticking to the widely-known brands with websites you’ve visited frequently in the past. Scammers are known for copying the layout of a popular online business to appear familiar, so considering bookmarking each website in advance and paying attention to URLs.
  2. If it’s too good to be true…It’s too good to be true.
    The easiest way to tell whether you’re being scammed online is to pay attention to the price and the estimated delivery date. Typically, if a price is set low, that is because their merchandise is manufactured in another country. If the price seems too good to be true and the item is expected to arrive shortly after your purchase, it is likely a scam site. The notion of an item being too good to be true especially applies to electronics. Even if the price is low and you receive it soon after purchasing, it is likely that the product will not last long. This may be fine if you’re purchasing a gift for a second cousin you only see once a year, but if you want it to last, keep searching for something more reasonable.
  3. A trusted website will never ask for your social security number.
    While it is common for an online retailer to request identifiable information such as name, address, and credit card information, that is where the reasonable requests end. An accredited retailer will never request or need access to your social security number to authorize a payment.
  4. Always pay by credit card.
    In keeping with the conversation on personal information, your routing and account numbers should never be required when making an online purchase. These numbers link directly to your checking account, giving anyone who knows them permanent access to your earned wages.  Choosing to pay with a credit card as opposed to debit will provide you with more fraud protection. Federal law limits a consumer’s liability for credit card fraud to $50, but many credit card companies take this a step further by providing zero liability coverage. With debit card purchases, the same $50 limit applies; however, failure to report the incident within 60 days could cause non-reimbursement for any amount. 14% of identity theft cases are reported three years after the occurrence, so using a credit card is an easy way to protect yourself, online.
  5. Keep a record of each purchase.
    After making an online purchase, consider creating a new email folder for all of your confirmations and digital receipts. These will come in handy if an expected delivery date comes and goes, and you need proof of purchase when you contact the company. Additionally, keep an eye on your bank statements for any unauthorized purchases. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you see any activity that doesn’t look familiar.
  6. Make sure your insurance policy includes coverage for identity recovery