How to properly “Cyber-Monday”
Cyber Monday is the grand finale of the marathon shopping week that occurs during the last week of November. Now, in the year 2019, just about everyone between the ages of 14 and 65 feels comfortable and confident when shopping online. However, just because you shop online more than in stores now doesn’t exclude you from falling victim to identity theft and computer fraud on one of the most vulnerable days of the year.
Did identity theft and computer fraud get your attention?
Cyber Monday isn’t just a profitable day for stores and shoppers but many hackers will also consider themselves lucky with the personal information and credit card numbers they will obtain. As thousands of Americans log onto their computers with credit cards in hand, hackers are sitting back waiting to go on a shopping spree of their very own.
Before you start to buy anything, make sure that you have gone to the proper lengths to protect your computer, your identity, and your personal information. The easiest step is to make sure that you’re shopping from a legitimate site. When using your phone, make purchases from a retailer’s verified app that has been downloaded from the Google Play, Apple Store, or another legitimate application site whenever possible. When using a browser, always look at the IP address. SSL is an encryption protocol that makes hacking much more difficult, although not impossible. You can tell that the website in question has this encryption by locating the “https” at the begging of the site. Never enter your card or other payment information on a non-https account.
Once you know you’re on a legitimate and safe site, it’s time to start shopping!
The smartest shoppers will stat the day with a plan. Know ahead of time what big-ticket items you want, what retailers carry them, and what those items typically run. A flashy flyer can make a product appear like it is heavily marked down when in reality it’s only 5% less than normal. You don’t want to get sucked into an “act quick” trick. Researching before shopping will help you to be an informed shopper which means you will get the best deals.
Maybe you don’t have any big-ticket items that you plan on hunting for. Maybe instead you planned to hit up your favorite stores and see if any deals appealed to you. Either way, a little bit of planning can go along way. Make sure to sign up for a few email newsletters that might include early savings or key information that won’t be made public until the day of. You should also survey stores’ social media channels as they will likely be doing deal previews or bonus promo codes to use. Lastly, set yourself up for success by bookmarking pages of the items you think you might want to buy as you’ll need to act fast to avoid an item being sold out.
In addition to planning and researching stores and products that you plan on purchasing, another key step in a successful Cyber Monday is setting a firm budget. Setting and, most importantly, following a budget for yourself will help you to be able to enjoy your purchases. Remember, just because something is marked down doesn’t mean you are saving money. You still have to spend something before taking ownership of the product. Be prepared to say “no” to anything that might go over your spending limit. One way to help determine what to spend money on and what to say no to is by using a price comparison tool to make sure that you’re receiving the best deal possible. One of the best price comparison tools is PriceGrabber. Another way of staying on budget is to avoid any add-ons and up-sells. If it isn’t on your list, it can wait until later.
As Cyber Monday is the last day of the biggest shopping week, you should consider item availability. If you’re hunting for an electronic wine opener, you’re probably fine waiting until a normal shopping hour to log onto your computer. However, if you’re wanting a new 70-inch, high def TV, you will likely be competing with several others all weekend. This means you will likely need to stay up late or get out of bed early to lock in the good prices. When you shop at inconvenient times, you also come across deals that you would otherwise miss.
Lastly, consider shopping in private or incognito mode. Private/incognito mode isn’t a foolproof way to mask your identity to retailers, but it can render you eligible for deals not available to someone with your browsing or purchasing history. Retailers know more about you than you could imagine and can use that information to cater deals to you specifically.
In summary, have a plan and budget in place, take action to protect your identity, and shop early. What items are you looking to save big on this year?
By: Miranda Hardesty Hoffpauir