Today begins a month-long shopping spree starting tomorrow with Black Friday and continuing through Cyber Monday.  In 2018, retailers brought in a record $6.2 billion dollars in online sales on Black Friday and another $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday.  And U.S. shoppers spent a whopping $126 billion on online shopping over the 2018 holiday season.

Over 69% of Americans shop online each year.  There are three points in the transaction that consumers should have their cybersecurity sensibilities about them.  First, during the advertisement of the product drawing the consumer to the purchase site. Second, the actual online retail site itself.  Third, what happens with the credit card information after it has been entered into the site. 

Here are some tips and tricks to stay safe during the online purchase process:

When dealing with a retailer that is unfamiliar consider these steps to minimize risk:

“Badges” that convey certification or trustworthiness can be valuable for new retailers but can also be easily forged.  Google no longer provides its trusted stores program. There are many others including well known organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.  Most importantly do not trust these at face value. Follow up with the certifying organization to ensure the retailer is actually certified.

Finally, be extra cautious with pop-up social retailers.  These companies pray on our impulses and emotions to get us to click through a transaction from an advertisement on social media feeds.  The goods are often gimicky like footie pajamas of our favorite major league sports teams. 

Following these recommendations will not provide a foolproof guarantee of a safe and secure holiday shopping season, but with these guidelines shoppers can be reasonably assured that they have done their best to protect themselves from online fraud.