5 Tips to a Secure Cyber Monday

For the past five years, Cyber Monday has been the marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday. It is now one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, with 77% of online retailers reporting substantially increased sales.

Scammers seek to take advantage of seasonal opportunities like Cyber Monday, so beware of the following scams:

Fake websites: Criminals draw visitors to their deceptive websites using the same techniques as legitimate eTailers: search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and online advertising via AdWords. They use keywords to boost their rankings on Internet searches, causing their scam sites to appear alongside legitimate sites in search results. These same processes are also used to infect unsuspecting users with malware. Run a SiteAdvisor program to give you a sense of a website’s legitimacy.

Phishing: Many victims who find themselves on scam sites get there by clicking links in phishing emails, which offer high-end products for low prices. In this case, it should be easy enough to avoid spoofed websites. Anytime you receive an offer via email, you should automatically be suspicious. The same goes for offers received through Twitter or other social media.

Too good to be true: If you aren’t familiar with the eTailer, don’t even bother clicking the links. Do business with those you know like and trust. I do occasionally patronize whichever eTailer offers the lowest price, but only when purchasing a relatively inexpensive item, generally under $50. It’s safer to make larger purchases from eTailers that also have brick and mortar locations.

Typosquatters: Be sure you’ve typed in the correct address and are at the eTailer’s actual domain. Beware of cybersquatting and typosquatting, which rely on imitation websites that resemble your desired destination, but are in fact copies, using domains that are similar to the legitimate web address.

Unsecured sites: When placing an order, always check the address bar for “https,” which indicates a secure page. Your browser may also display a closed padlock, further confirming that the page is secure. Generally, scammers won’t take the time to set up secure sites.

Common sense can help you avoid becoming a victim of these and other scams. Beyond that, consider subscribing to McAfee Identity Protection, which offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. For additional tips, please visit www.counteridentitytheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss Cyber Monday on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. (Disclosures)

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