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Cyber Monday: Avoiding Scams and Identity Theft

The biggest (online) shopping day of the year is today.

The Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend has long been one of the busiest online shopping days

But, like Black Friday, "Cyber Monday" has been creeping back closer to Thanksgiving. Online holiday sales started as early as Wednesday of last week, and already spent $1 billion, according to Internet tracking firm comScore.

Still, many shoppers will hit the web today in search of additional deals or items they did not find in stores this weekend.

Here are some tips on avoiding scams and identity theft on Cyber Monday from Identity Theft 911:

  • Shop on secure sites. These sites have “https” in the address bar and a yellow padlock logo to the right of the Web browser address bar. Double-click on the lock to see a digital certificate of the website. Review these certificates on unfamiliar sites.
  • Enter correct URLs. Hackers often buy misspelled domains to trick people into entering personal information.
  • Never enter your Social Security number or passwords to email and bank accounts as part of the buying process with online retailers.
  • Use different passwords for online retailers, personal email and banks accounts. If a hacker cracks one password, he won’t have access to others.
  • Read site reviews before making any purchases. Pricegrabber.com compares prices and users’ comments on retail websites. Google Product Search, slickdeals.net and dealnews.com monitor retailers, site performance, possible issues and deals.
  • Never save personal information on an online retail website. Retailers will offer convenience and better deals, but many customer databases are breached by identity thieves. It’s not worth the risk.
  • Use credit cards, not debit cards. Try to use credit cards with low limits to minimize the damage if a thief takes over the account. Or, use a “one-time” credit card number from payment processors such as PayPal.
  • Never send payment information via regular email. It’s not secure. Make sure all personal information transactions are done on a secure site.
  • Uncheck boxes advertising “additional offers.” These services are sometimes offered for a low initial fee that later increases to a high, recurring charge on your credit card. Also, they’ll issue your contact information to spammers.

For ideas for those Thanksgiving leftovers and more local shopping info, check out the Patch holiday section here.

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