MOBRIDGE, S.D – (DRG News) This past Friday was the annual event called Black Friday. This is supposed to be the day where businesses finally make it out of the red and into the black on their year’s sales.
Across the nation people waited in lines for hours, even days, to get discounts on the items on their shopping list. Some people were so intent on obtaining the discounted items that they had physical altercations with other shoppers and store employees. Some question if the savings is worth the time and torture it takes to battle the crowds and animalistic nature of some shoppers.
Retailers keep pushing forward the big sales event days and even opened on Thanksgiving Day. Many chains even started offering sales the weekend before.
Some shoppers waited until Saturday, for Small Business Saturday, to shop the small businesses in their communities. Many small businesses rely heavily on the holiday season to survive the remainder of the year. Some wonder if the small percentage saved from the major retailers is worth the trade-off of the customer service that small businesses can provide their customers, let alone the survival of the small local business.
Today is Cyber Monday. Millions of items will be purchased online where the perceived savings and values are blasted across the internet. The big retailers want to get money from those who did not battle the crowds on Friday. Many big retailers have adjusted their strategy to offer the same value online as in the store during Black Friday.
Shoppers can find some great deals during the sales events. A word of caution when buying the big savings items touted by the major retailers. Many of the items are lower quality, less features, overstock, previous models that didn’t sell. Be sure to check if they are new or refurbished, what the return policy is, and where you can get support once you make the purchase. Just because the retailer says the retail price was way above the current sale price, does not indicate a real value.
If you are going to do online shopping today, here are some tips from South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications.
Whether you will be conducting transactions from your desktop, laptop or mobile device, keep these tips in mind to help protect yourself from identity theft and other malicious activity on Cyber Monday, and throughout the year:
Secure your computer and mobile devices. Be sure your computer and mobile devices are current with all operating system and application software updates. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software should be installed, running, and receiving automatic updates. Ensure you use a strong password and unique password, which is not used for any other accounts. Set a timeout that requires authentication after a period of inactivity.
Use mobile applications with caution. As devices such as smartphones and tablets, continue to gain popularity for online shopping, so too will the volume of attacks against them. Malware could be downloaded onto the device from seemingly legitimate shopping apps that can steal credit card and other sensitive information for transmission to cyber criminals. Update all apps when notified and disable Bluetooth and Near Field Communications when not in use to reduce the risk of your data—such as credit card number—being intercepted by a nearby device.
Know your online merchants. Limit online shopping to merchants you know and trust. Only go to sites by directly typing the URL in the address bar. If you are unsure about a merchant, check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission. Confirm the online seller’s contact information in case you have questions or problems.
Consider using an online payment system or credit card. Where available, you may want to use online payment services, which keep your credit card information stored on a secure server, and then let you make purchases online without revealing your credit card details to retailers. If you do pay online directly to the retailer, use a credit, not debit card. Credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act and may reduce your liability if your information is used improperly.
Look for “https” before you click “Purchase.” Before you submit your online transaction, make sure that the webpage address begins with “https.” The “s” stands for secure, and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. A padlock or key icon in the browser’s status bar is another indicator.
Do not respond to pop-ups. When a window pops up promising you cash, bargains, or gift cards in exchange for your response to a survey or other questions, close it by pressing Control + F4 on Windows devices, or Command + W for Macs.
Do not use public computers or public wireless access for your online shopping. Public computers and Wi-Fi hotspots are potentially insecure. Criminals may be intercepting traffic on public wireless networks to steal credit card numbers and other sensitive information.
Secure your home Wi-Fi. Make sure you control who has administrative access, and that any users on your network authenticate with a strong password. Encryption settings should be enabled and strong – using WPA2 is recommended.
Be alert for potential charity donation scams. Cyber criminals try to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holiday season and can use fake charity requests as a means to gain access to your information or computer/device. Think before clicking on emails requesting donations. Don’t give your financial or personal information over email or text.
With cautious buying you will be able to have a happy holiday.
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