Cyber Monday, the digital shopping extravaganza that follows on the heels of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, began a decade ago with retailers encouraging people to shop online while at work, where they typically had access to faster Internet than in their homes. Years later, home connection speeds have caught up, but retailers and consumers still treat it as the biggest online shopping day of the year.
If you’re among the 122 million Americans planning to do some cyber shopping today, don’t let the promise of great deals distract you from best practices when it comes to Internet transactions. Follow these steps to shop smart:
1. Stay off of public Wi-Fi. Any transactions conducted on public Wi-Fi are extremely insecure and could be intercepted easily by criminals. Protect your identity by waiting to enter your payment info until you’re on a secure, private network. If you absolutely must make a purchase on the go, do it over your phone’s cellular network, which is more difficult to hack.
2. Do a Google search for coupon codes. Your inbox is probably already full of merchants offering discount codes for purchases today. Before you check out, however, make sure there are no more valuable codes out there simply by Googling the store name and the words “coupon codes.” Or install a browser extension like Honey, which will do the search for you and apply the code at checkout.
3. Never pay for shipping. High shipping charges can quickly cancel out savings, and free shipping has become so common that most retailers will waive it entirely during the holiday season, especially if you don’t need rush delivery. Be sure to check the fees for return shipping as well, if you or the recipient may need to send the item back.