It’s that time of year again. Holiday shoppers get ready, set ... SURF!
The global masses are already scouring the Internet for end-of-the-year deals and discounts, and opportunities for savings now begin with pre-Thanksgiving Day sales that lead into Black Friday and Cyber Monday and even the entire month of December.
Because the Thanksgiving holiday falls on Nov. 23, this is one of the longest Christmas shopping seasons in recent years, and the strong economy is leading prognosticators to predict that more presents will be under the tree.
More surprising, many experts (like Deloitte Consulting) are predicting more online sales than in-store sales this holiday season. The reasons that many consumers prefer online shopping to in-store experiences vary, but here are a few items to consider from the Deloitte article:
- Ease of searching
- High-quality/trusted products
- Variety of products/styles available
- Availability of hard-to-find/unique products
- Variety of delivery options
So assuming that you will do at least some shopping online, here’s what you need to know. I am offering top tips from a variety of sources, and wrapping up this piece with my — “top tip” from the dozens of sources that I examined.
Finding Deals from Marie Claire
To start, check out this informative article on Online Christmas Shopping Hacks
The article ends with this advice below. (Honey is a browser plug-in that tells you if you are getting the best price, read the article for more details.)
To summarize, if you want your money to stretch a little further this Christmas (and have some left over to treat yourself):
Here are David Papp’s 12 quick fraud awareness tips to remember when online shopping:
Firstly, stick to brands and businesses that you know well, and have a good reputation. ...
Shop only on secure websites. “Look for https: rather than http: at the front of the URL.
Over and above secure sites, Brown advises shoppers to be vigilant in terms of the connection they are shopping over. “Public Wi-Fi is a notorious means for cyber-criminals to carry out man-in-the-middle attacks.
Good idea to use secure payment services such as PayPal, and if this isn’t an option, credit cards rather than debit cards to purchase goods online.
In addition, he says to be aware of the old maxim, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
We Live Security Online Tips:
- Stick with trusted brands that have a strong reputation
- Use credit cards and secure payment services instead of debit cards
- Look out for https URL and the padlock symbol
- Be wary of dodgy offers that are too good to be true
- Opt for your mobile phone network over public Wi-Fi
National Cybersecurity Alliance’s Holiday Online Shopping Tips
KEEP CLEAN MACHINES: Before searching for that perfect gift, be sure that all Web-connected devices — including PCs, smartphones and tablets — are free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software and apps.
LOCK DOWN YOUR LOGIN: One of the most critical things you can do in preparation for the online shopping season is to fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. …
CONDUCT RESEARCH: When using a new website for your holiday purchases, read reviews and see if other customers have had positive or negative experiences with the site.
WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT: Links in emails, social media posts and text messages are often how cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
MONEY. VALUE IT. PROTECT IT.: When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is necessary for the vendor to request that information. Remember that you only need to fill out required fields at checkout.
NAVIGATING THE DIGITAL MARKETPLACE WHILE ON THE GO: GET SAVVY ABOUT WI-FI. ...
HOTSPOTSSECURE YOUR DEVICES: Use strong passwords or touch ID features to lock your devices. These security measures can help protect your information if your devices are lost or stolen and keep prying eyes out.
THINK BEFORE YOU APP: Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location, has value — just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps.
NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON’T: Some stores and other locations look for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they’re not in use.
RESOURCES U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS): DHS encourages shoppers to take special precautions when shopping and banking online. Check out the Mobile Banking and Payments tip card and other resources at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
Final Resources and Top Tip
This safe holiday shopping topic is certainly not new. I don’t blog on this safe holiday shopping topic every year, but here are a few of my past blogs, and most tips still apply.
I do find it very interesting how the “acceptable use” practices at work have evolved in the public and private sectors as far as holiday shopping — especially on Cyber Monday. Things were certainly different back in 2010 when I was chief technology officer (CTO) for the state of Michigan.
Question to ponder: What does this trend tell us about the future of online life?
Finally, I offer my top holiday shopping advice, and it doesn’t involve your PC or smartphone.
Whatever you buy, and wherever you buy it, closely examine those credit card statements. Did you make that charge? If not, you can usually get your money back if you act promptly.
Happy Thanksgiving! And Black Friday and Cyber Monday too.