While online shopping brings the world of retail to your computer, it's not without its perils. Just ask anyone who's recovered from identity theft or failed to read the fine print for an online purchase.
Here are five choice tips that even the most savvy online shopper can use on Cyber Monday:
Music and books are perennial favorites for holiday gift giving. But if you're buying digital music and e-books, pay attention to where the downloads are ending up. If the downloads are going to your account, there's a chance they can't be shared with a gift recipient. Some retailers have the option to buy digital media as a gift; that's probably what you'd like to do.
Oh, those pesky terms of service agreements. They're a dry but necessary read. Failure to read the fine print on a Cyber Monday purchase could end up with you paying "surprise" fees or being signed up for unwanted email. Slow down during check out and make sure you know what you're getting.
Tickets to the big game or a favorite band's concert definitely have that "wow" factor as gifts! Be cautious, though, about buying tickets online for someone else. Some venues require that the same credit card used to buy the tickets be shown to collect the tickets as will call. No credit card = no show = one sad gift recipient.
If you're shopping online from a coffee shop, library, or waiting room, double check the security of the wi-fi network. An unsecure network means your credit card information could be compromised. Yes, it's nice to sneak in a few minutes of shopping while you're out running errands, but the risks of using a sketchy network are very high.
Credit cards should be your payment of choice on Cyber Monday. That's because credit card payments can be withheld from a retailer should a dispute arise (for example, if your credit card is stolen and used in a shopping spree without your knowledge). Generally, the card holder is on the hook for no more than $50 of fraudulent charges. With a debit card, the store dips directly into your bank account; there's no withholding payments. What's more, a stolen debit card could cost its owner up to $500, depending on when the theft is reported.
In 2011, the business of cyber crime was greater than a trillion dollars. With the advance of technology, cyber liability today surely is an even bigger risk. Don't let the deals of Cyber Monday compromise your high standards for information security!