Online shopping does come with added risks. Though most stores and sellers operate legitimate businesses and use Black Friday to promote themselves, others know that some shoppers sacrifice their safety for a supposed deal.
The internet has undoubtedly revolutionized a user’s shopping experience. The world has swiftly shifted from physical to online shopping without much resistance. Online stores are super convenient as they not only allow the advantage of skipping crowded malls but offer the most enticing deals on reputable brands.
Online shopping leaves you vulnerable to different types of cyber threats, but knowing what to expect can keep you alert. Observing the safe shopping practices below will keep you far from Black Friday’s red flags. Here's how to stay safe while shopping online during the sales event.
SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN
Approximately 50% of all toy purchases occur between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas. While parents are on a mad dash to scoop up the hottest toys, please keep in mind that safety should be at the top of their wish lists.
Each year, more than 500 kids are treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries; more than a third were children younger than 5 years old. As we move into the busiest toy-buying season, think about fun as well as safety by making sure toys are appropriate for a child's age and maturity level.
Observing the safe shopping practices below will keep you far from Black Friday’s red flags. Here's how to stay safe while shopping online during the sales event.
• Consider your child's age when purchasing a toy or game. It's worth taking a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it just right for your child.
• Keep a special eye on small game pieces that may be a choking hazard for young children. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
• After playtime is over, use a bin or container to store toys for the next time. Make sure there are no holes or hinges that could catch little fingers.
• Keep coin lithium battery-controlled devices out of sight and reach of children. These include remote controls, some children's toys, key fobs, watches, hearing aids, and flashing holiday jewelry or decorations. For any toys that use batteries, make sure the battery covers are screwed on tight.
• Stay informed about harmful products in the marketplace. Check for product recalls.
• For the cost-conscious gift giver, regifting or handing down old toys down to a new generation can be a great way to save money during the holiday season. However, some older toys may not meet current safety standards or may be so worn from years of play that they can break or become unsafe. Check for broken or loose parts. Don't gift any painted toys made before 1978 -- they may contain lead paint.
• Even if your child seems mature for their age, that doesn't mean toys meant for older children are appropriate. Don't buy an advanced toy for the child to "grow into" -- get what is appropriate for their age level. Keep the holidays merry and bright by keeping kids safe.
SAFETY FOR ADULTS
The methods used by cyber-criminals are growing and changing by the day so, now more than ever, it is crucial that consumers are aware of the threats and remain vigilant.
Shop websites you're familiar with
Household name brands like Amazon is as trustworthy as it gets. They handle millions of transactions per day and have a myriad of security systems in place to ensure their customers have a safe online shopping experience.
Trust your instincts
Trust can manifest or dissipate in the click of a mouse and most retailers know their website’s design speaks volumes — it is why so many major retailers follow a similar site structure. Most trustworthy sites make their inventory easy to browse, with high-quality photos and product descriptions, and lead into a straightforward checkout. Avoid anything that looks unprofessional, has too many ads and pop-ups, or veers too far off ‘normal’ site structure.
Ditch non-secure checkouts
Shopping cart security is imperative as it is the most vulnerable point for fraudsters to attack. You want an encrypted checkout process and that should be noted clearly on the website itself (usually with a padlock). A well-encrypted checkout should also trigger a small padlock to appear next to the site’s URL in your browser.
Don’t divulge unnecessary personal information
While sharing your name and address in an online checkout process is a requirement, do not provide anything out of the ordinary — especially post-process. Phishing scams target shoppers around the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, often mimicking the web address of major retailers and requesting additional information by e-mail.
Choose complex passwords and change them often
Simple passwords can be hacked in seconds and — annoying as it seems — websites are trying to help you when they ask for a lower case letter, capital letter, special character, and number. Your passwords protect your privacy, purchases, and pocket.
The internet can dispel a scam as fast as it can host one, making product reviews — and reviews of the sites that sell them — a valuable Black Friday resource. Most websites will host reviews on product pages themselves, but fraudsters have also been known to fake reviews to forge authenticity.
Check the terms of service
If you’ve discovered a retailer with a great offer that seems to pass tips one through seven, search for their terms of service. You want complete transparency on who the business is, how they will ship your purchase, and the terms and conditions of refunds.
Keep checking your accounts regularly to make sure you notice any unusual/fraudulent activity straight away.