Tips to Help You Shop Safely on Cyber Monday!

Shop from a secure computer: A computer or Android phone that isn't protected by antivirus software is more likely to be compromised by malware. Otherwise, all data entered into or transmitted from that phone or computer is at risk, including all forms of personally identifiable information, credit-card numbers and bank accounts. Be sure to keep the operating system and all internet-facing apps updated to the latest software versions.

Shop using a secure connection:  Data can be at risk during transit if an attacker controls the network or uses packet-sniffing software. Web protocols such as HTTPS encrypt communications, but in some advanced attacks even those could fall to a "man-in-the-middle" attack. Nonetheless, always look for the HTTPS lock symbol in your browser address window when performing an online purchase.

Search for deals on retailer sites, not on search engines: Scammers "poison" search results with malicious or deceptive links. Want that latest game console? Run a search on the Best Buy, Amazon or GameStop sites rather than on Google.

Use trusted vendors: Any website can be attacked by hackers, but limiting your shopping to established and trusted vendors limits your exposure. Bookmark the most trusted online retail sites to make sure you don't get redirected to fakes.

Don't fall for 'too-good-to-be-true' deals: Cyber Monday features a lot of incredible, legitimate deals offered by trusted mainstream retailers. But cybercriminals will prey on shoppers' desire for the lowest prices and will try to slip in a lot of fake deals. Watch out especially for emails, text messages, pop-up browser windows and Facebook and Twitter posts promising fantastic savings. Clicking on links in the messages or posts could lead to scams, phishing sites or sites distributing malware. And don't open attachments in emails promising fantastic deals.

Don't use debit cards online: You've got far less protection against fraud on a debit card than you do with a credit card. Stick to credit cards when shopping online. If you absolutely must use a debit card, use the prepaid kind with a set spending limit.

Use unique passwords and logon information for every site you visit: Yes, it's a pain to remember all those passwords. But if one of them is stolen, a cybercrook will try using it on other websites. Passwords should be as long as possible and contain a mix of upper- and lower-case characters, numbers, punctuation and symbols -- and they shouldn't be reused, especially for any website that handles your money. If you have trouble handling them all, use a password manager.

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