5 Tips to Safer Online Holiday Shopping

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Black is back! More holiday shoppers will shop in person this year than online, partly because of security concerns. But if you are planning to shop online this year, here's how to stay safe.

A few years ago, some shopping analysts were predicting the demise of Black Friday because online retailers had declared the next weekday “Cyber Monday.” Well, most Americans still believe nothing beats shopping in person.

“Consumers not only think Black Friday has the best deals, but they also plan to put their beliefs into action and shop on Black Friday,” says shopping site PriceGrabber, which recently conducted a Black Friday Shopping Survey. This was the key finding …

Sixty-one percent of consumers said they believe Thanksgiving weekend has the best shopping deals compared with the rest of the holiday season. Of this 61 percent, 86 percent believe the best deals are found on Black Friday. Cyber Monday came in a distant second, with 33 percent.

Make no mistake, online holiday shopping continues to grow, but so do the concerns about it. Another new poll, this one by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), claims, “As the holiday shopping season and Cyber Monday approaches, a growing majority of Americans – 64 percent – report they have not made an online purchase from a specific website because of security concerns.”

If there’s any surprise in this survey, it’s that this number is so low: 48 percent. That’s how many of us have “felt a website requested more information than was necessary for the transaction.” So NCSA offers this advice so you don’t get Scrooged this holiday season…

  1. Keep a clean machine: Check to make sure that all software – especially security, web browsers and operating systems – are up to date and set to update automatically.
  2. Protect your personal information: When opening new accounts, use long and strong passwords. Don’t provide any of that “optional” information.
  3. Connect with care: When shopping, check to be sure a website is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://” – which means the site takes extra steps to secure your information during financial transactions.
  4. Be wary: Cyber crooks will try to get you to click through to deals that may seem too good to be true. They’ll also try to trick you by sending emails that something has gone wrong with an online purchase.
  5. Be web wise: If you’ve never bought something from an online merchant before, research that seller first. Search to see how others have rated them, and check their reviews. In fact, it’s a smart idea to do that research even if you’re a returning customer who’s been away for awhile – because reputations can change.

For more in-depth advice, check out our video at Online Holiday Shopping: 5 Pitfalls.

Stacy Johnson

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