With some of the biggest shopping days in your near future, it’s important you’re ready to snag deals without endangering your finances. Before you take advantage of epic Cyber Monday deals this year, check in with this quick list of online shopping tips. They’ll help you protect your financial data, so you don’t expose something important.
1. Don’t shop with your debit card
Nowadays, you can shop online using your debit card like you would any credit card, but this is a bad idea. When you use a debit card, you’re exchanging key data about this account when you finalize your purchase. If the website gets hacked, your entire account could be in danger.
Compared to your debit card, a credit card is an isolated financial product. There’s less risk that a hack could jeopardize your entire bank account when you use credit. It’s even more secure when you use just one credit card rather than spreading out your shopping between cards. In the case of a cybersecurity issue, only one card would be affected. This will also make it easier to review statements and check for any fraudulent purchases.
2. Shop from secure sites
In the pursuit for the absolute rock-bottom price on your item, you’ll shop around. It’s natural to check a few sites to make sure you’re getting the best price for what you want, and it’s a good way to ensure you don’t overpay when you don’t have to. Unfortunately, this habit can take you to recesses of the web.
Before you type in your credit card number, you should ensure the site you’re on has a lock icon that says “secure” or “verified”. This is a trust seal that indicates the website works with a security firm to protect their data. There are other signs to look out for, but this is the biggest indicator of security.
This tip applies to any website you hope to share contact or financial information, especially when you’re looking for a personal loan. An online lender like MoneyKey protects your financial data by using secure socket layer encryption and Verified Site Certificates. You can also see a lock icon next to MoneyKey.com when you’re in Chrome. By clicking on this icon, you can see that the connection is secure, and the certificates are valid.
3. Use incognito mode
On your meandering way to this article, you’ve probably already clicked ‘accept’ to at least one cookie consent notice. Most people don’t really think about what they’re accepting when they click this button. Generally, cookies won’t affect the average browsing experience — unless, of course, you’re shopping.
Cookies are little pieces of data a website stores on your computer through your browser. For the most part, they’re used so a website can load faster when you return to a page or auto-fill forms you’ve already completed. But when it comes to online retailers, cookies can affect the price you pay.
In the past, this cookie debacle has mainly influenced the travel industry, but its effects are widespread. Plenty of retailers increase their prices when cookies show you’ve looked at an item before.
The next time you shop around for the best price, do it in incognito mode. Though it still shares some of your data, this privacy setting won’t store your history or cookies, so websites can’t inflate prices between visits.
4. Know your priorities
According to the latest CNBC All-American Economic Survey, 76 percent of Americans plan to do most of their holiday shopping at just one website: Amazon. Its nearest competitor, Walmart, trails behind with just 8 percent of respondents saying they’ll do most of their shopping at the chain retailer.
When asked what helps them decide where to shop, they ranked the following factors in order:
1. Free shipping (43 percent placed this as the most important)
2. The ability to compare prices (26 percent)
3. Availability of product information (18 percent)
How do you compare? It’s a good question to ask yourself, as this will impact where you end up shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend. Once you know your priorities, you can find out what retailers offer what you want. From there, you can research what deals are available. Doing a bit of research beforehand can help you avoid sharing your credit card number with malicious websites and scammers.
Shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend has always been risky. At the mall, you had to brave the chaotic crowds ready to physically fight for the last TV on sale. Online, you have to navigate scams and malicious website intent on stealing your data.
Luckily, shopping online safely is a lot easier than dodging a stampeding crowd — especially when you follow the tips above. Go incognito to spy on deals and remember to use just one credit card for all your online shopping. Though these may seem simple enough, these shopping tricks could stop you from exposing your financial data to the wrong sources and save you a huge headache during the holidays.