Can you tell which sites are safe for Cyber Monday shopping?

Don Ames
November 27, 2017 - 10:02 am

Two recent surveys indicate that only half of consumers think they know when online shopping is safe. And, 35 percent of Americans say they've stopped an online purchase out of security fears. 

That's obviously of concern on this Cyber Monday, and for good reason. More fake web sites are launched during the holiday shopping season than at any other time of the year.

"If you stick with the major retailers, you're going to be fine," says online shopping expert, Walter Engelbrecht. "But, if you start to venture out and try other sites and other deals, you might want to check their Google reviews, you might want to check their Facebook page. Make sure they're legitimate."

However, the brands that are likely to have the most phishing attempts this year are Amazon, Walmart, and Target, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. 

"The safest thing to do, really, is go to, or to," Engelbrecht says. "Or use some sort of a deal app. There are some out there called ShopAdvisor and others. If you use those types of resources and you go to the sites that way versus clicking on things that are coming to you, that's probably the safest thing you could do." 

"Check their Google reviews. Check to make sure that people are making comments about any free shipping offers or return policies. You really want to be sure these are legitimate sites. And, it's actually easier, these days, to tell, because you have all these other review sites and social media sites." 

He also says browsing on sites with https, not just http, is safer, since criminals can monitor network traffic on http sites and lift credit card information, for example.

"It is a lot safer," says Engelbrecht. "With the 's' at the end, it's an encrypted site. So you never ever want to type in any personal information or credit card information that doesn't have the 's' after it." 

And, clicking on false links from emails or typing in web site urls with slight misspellings, such as Walmaart instead of Walmart, can expose consumers to ransomware or to unintentionally releasing their financial or personal information.

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