There are sure to be fantastic deals all over the internet on Cyber Monday, and many people will be taking advantage of the opportunities to be had. USA Today reports that Black Friday 2011 broke sales records and gave a much-needed boost to the economy. Cyber Monday is anticipated to follow suit; last year, Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day of the year. This is great news for consumers and merchants, but don’t let it be great news for cyber criminals who want to take advantage of the surge in online buying. Here are some ways you can protect yourself online.
First and foremost, use a good credit card for online shopping so you can have peace of mind for fraud protection. Some debit cards have fraud protection as well—some even give a similar level of protection as credit cards—but consumer protection varies on debit cards since lawmakers categorize debit cards differently than credit cards. Additionally, when there’s fraud on your debit card, there’s essentially fraud on your checking account.
Ideally, you should only spend on a credit card what you can afford to pay off when the bill comes. Alternatively, if it may be a few months before you can pay off your holiday shopping bill, chose a card with the lowest APR possible. If you have excellent credit, the Capital One Platinum Prestige Credit Card may be a good choice for you since it has 0% APR until February 2013 and $0 Fraud Liability protection. There’s no annual fee for this card, but after February 2013, you will be charged a 10.9% - 18.9% variable APR.
After you’ve armed yourself with the protection of a good credit card, you should make sure you’re only shopping on a secured connection (like at home or at work). Open WiFi connections at your local coffee shop do not qualify, since anyone with a WiFi scanner could access all of the information you’re transmitting while shopping. You also should never email personal financial information, including credit card numbers, since email is an unsecured medium. Legitimate online retails should never ask you to email credit card or bank account information.
Additionally, you shouldn’t save credit card information on your mobile phone, tempting as it may be. Not only do you have to worry about your card information being compromised if you lose your phone or have it stolen, other mobile applications on your phone may be able to access the card information as well—even if you haven’t directly given them permission.
If you take the proper precautions, Cyber Monday (and online shopping in general) can safely provide shoppers with significant savings—which you can then use to boost your investment accounts.
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