Cyber Monday sales are just around the corner, and while it's easier than ever to make an online purchase, it's also quite easy to click your way into a trap.
Cyber criminals may not care about what you're buying for dad this holiday season, but they are looking for credit card numbers and other ways to steal your identity. And there are other potential pitfalls as well.
Online shopping is a great convenience, but there are many risks to sending your financial information via the Internet. Follow these tips so you can enjoy making those purchases without a hassle.
Update your virus software. You still have a few days before sales start, so use this time to make sure your computer is secure. Check your virus software to make sure it can protect your computer from any dangerous downloads that may come your way.
Read the fine print. Most people don't read the click-through agreements on websites, according to a FindLaw survey, but that language is a binding agreement. If you click "I agree," make sure you know what you're agreeing to. Otherwise you may end up in a lot of trouble that you didn't see coming.
Make sure the site is secure. You can check a website's security by taking a look at its URL. If it says "https," then the site uses secure sockets layer (SSL) security to protect users from hacking it. Only enter your credit card on a site that uses SSL.
Pay with a credit card. There's no way to completely prevent identify theft, but one of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to use a credit card rather than a wire or bank transfer when you pay. Credit cards already have built-in protection against identity theft, and suspicious activity could trigger the credit card company to contact you and stop the fraudulent charges.
Limit the personal information you provide. To make a purchase online, you need to provide a payment method and an address. But that's it. If an online store asks for your Social Security or bank account number (because you're paying with a credit card, right?), don't provide it and exit the website. No matter how good the deal, it's not worth dealing with identity theft.
If, despite your precautions, you become a victim of identity theft, it's important to act quickly to protect your credit score. While you're at it, talk to an attorney about how you can potentially pursue justice through a lawsuit.