MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and this year’s Cyber Monday sales could be a record-breaking. As the popularity of Cyber Monday grows and the deals get bigger and better, experts are warning the public to be on the lookout for cybercriminals.
The National Retail Federation predicts over 68 million people to shop online on Cyber Monday this year. Reports show last Cyber Monday, shoppers spent a record-breaking $7.9 billion online.
This year, Adobe Analytics predicts people will spend $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday, a nearly 19% increase from last year.
Cybersecurity experts are warning online shoppers of scammers who may be trying to bring in some of that cash. That’s why they want you to keep a few things in mind before you click “buy” on that online cart.
Starting with your inbox, experts say phishing scams have become a popular way criminals can access your personal information by sending fake deals that link to a phony website. If you receive an email like this, it’s best to delete it right away and go to the website directly instead of clicking on the email link. Once you’re browsing on a website, make sure your web address begins with “H-T-T-P-S” and look for the lock symbol.
Stanton Greenawalt, a cybersecurity professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, says with one wrong move, your personal information could be compromised.
“I would even strongly recommend if you haven’t done it, I would look into it about setting up a VPN. The beauty of having a virtual private network, it makes it very difficult for the cyber thieves to know what you’re doing. They can’t look at what websites you’re looking at, they can’t see your transactions,” said Greenawalt.
It’s recommended to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. Experts say watch out for false advertising and to keep a close eye on the web address on your browser, as scammers love to create look-a-like websites. The goal is to get you to type in your login credentials so they can steal your information. If you have an account with an online store, make sure you always use strong passwords and update them regularly. Also, you should never keep your credit card information saved on file. When it comes to using public Wi-Fi to make a purchase online, experts say avoid it if you can.
In addition, experts recommend using your credit card while you shop online over debit cards, as they offer more protection from charges that can be disputed and refunded.
But keep in mind, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.