For the most part, shopping online is safe—that is, if you use familiar, reputable websites. But sometimes in order to find that perfect gift you need to stray from the usual vendors, and that means you must take extra precautions to make sure that you don’t end up handing your credit card data to online fraudsters.

There are a number of threats online shoppers can run into on Cyber Monday—and, quite honestly, any day of the year—including:

  • Unsecure websites that could “lead” personal and financial information out to cybercriminals.
  • Cybercriminals who steal private data, including passwords, to break into consumers’ accounts.
  • Scam websites that offer deals that are too good to be true…because they are.
  • Online threats like malware and spam.

So, what can you do to ensure your Cyber Monday experience is safe and enjoyable? Here are 6 essential cyber security tips to help you stay out of trouble:

  1. Shop on secure websites – Make sure the website address contains “https” instead of “http,” which indicates an added layer of protection. Remember…”s” stands for secure! Also check the website for a trust mark by a third-party company. These marks demonstrate that a trusted company has taken comprehensive measures to certify security, online business ethics, and customer privacy standards.
  2. Use strong passwords – Passwords can be the first and sometimes best line of defense against cybercriminals. Using complex passwords is a good start, but they also need to be kept private and changed on a regular basis. Also, use a unique password for every website.
  3. Don’t shop on public Wi-Fi networks – Always assume public Wi-Fi networks are insecure. Never enter sensitive data (bank account information, credit or debit card details, etc.) when using the Web on a public Wi-Fi network.
  4. Don’t buy from unfamiliar websites – If you’re not familiar with the website, don’t make a purchase, no matter how tempting the deal.
  5. Use a good security solution – Invest in a security suite that offers anti-virus, a two-way firewall, and other essential tools, to protect your data and your computer from online threats.
  6. Monitor account and billing statements for fraudulent activity – After making online transactions, be sure to double check for any accidental or potentially fraudulent charges. Unauthorized credit usage should be reported immediately in order to prevent further activity. Unlike credit fraud, including a compromised social security number is much harder to detect and properly address, therefore monitoring for changes goes a long way.
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