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Before You Cyber-Shop, Become Cyber-Safe: Tips to Shop Safer Online.

Posted by J Powers at 11:56 AM on November 25, 2011
cyber-safe

Be cyber-safe

It’s that time to go and get your gifts for the kids, parents, siblings and the hubby. Some of us braved the cold and dark of night to stand in line for some super doorbuster deal. However, others stayed at home with cocoa and a restful nights sleep, for their trip to shop means turning on the computer and getting it all online.

As you get ready to brave the online crowds on the website, let’s run through a little checklist so you can be safe in purchasing items. With these ideas, you are better protected from malware and scams.

Update Your Computer, Browser and Anti-Virus

This is probably the most important thing to do. There are several security updates that patch holes to your computer. If you are planning on entering a credit card, you want to make sure nobody can watch your transaction. Run some scans on your computer, run the updates to the computer (Mac or PC), then open up your web browser and check for updates.

- Chrome : Choose the wrench icon on the right and “About Google Chrome”. It will update software automatically.

- Firefox: Choose the “Firefox” tab on the top-left. Choose “Options -> Options”. Select “Advanced” and the “Update” tab.

- IE: Go through Windows Update to get the latest version

- Safari: Through the software update option

- Windows 7: Windows Start button – Type in “Windows Update” in the Run box.

- Windows XP: Open IE browser and type in Update.microsoft.com

- Mac: Choose the Apple and Software Update

Anti-Virus may be trickier since there are different versions out there. Most important, if you don’t have anti-virus on your computer, put it on now. Avast and AVG are two great programs that have free versions.

What Websites are You Shopping At?

If you are going off the beaten internet path, it’s important to make sure the website is a verified seller. Most of the time, you can find badges on the site saying if they are trusted. When in doubt, do some simple searches. Also check the retailer’s reviews at a site like Resale Ratings.

Finally – When you are checking out, make sure you are on a secure page. Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE all indicate if your credit card will be encrypted or not. If the lock icon is closed, you are on a secure page.

Email: Trusting links, Query Confirmation Email or Bank Email

You might be getting tons of “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” deals through email. Be careful what you select – there are misrepresented Spam mails out there. I just got one the other day from the New York Times to get a 1 year subscription. The email looked like it was from the NYTimes, but the links went to some other site like newyorktimes.some_domain_name dot com.

When in doubt, do a Google search on the email deal. If Walmart is having an online sale, then go to Walmart.com and find the deal through their website.

You might also see confirmation emails that could be phishing schemes. You get an email saying “Congratulations: You just purchased…”, but you didn’t purchase anything. There is a link saying “I didn’t purchase this” or something related. When you click on the link, it tells you what to do on a refund.

DON’T CLICK! (don’t even trust the links in the email)

What you should do is go to the website directly and find a phone number to call. Verify with an agent there is a purchase for you. Also, check your card statements. some purchases update within minutes.

Buy with Credit Card

Speaking of Credit Cards, most major cards and Paypal come with fraud protection. If you feel unsafe about any purchase, make a call to your credit card company. Never purchase online by sending a check or  wiring cash to someone’s account. If they cannot get a verified payment service like Paypal, Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, American Express or more, then this purchase isn’t worth it.

Ask For Help

Ok, so you are not Internet savvy. You read through this article and your head began to spin. If that is the case, then ask people for help. Talk to your friends. Seek out someone you know that does this stuff on a regular basis. What is worse is if you do not update your computer. Never think “Oh, I’ll just do it later…”

Cyber crime rises during the holidays. We are purchasing more online. So it’s important to stay safe. That, and get the best deal on a tablet…