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Cyber Monday: How to keep your personal information secure

One of the biggest scams, according to cybersecurity expert Stephanie Benoit-Kurtz, is fake...
One of the biggest scams, according to cybersecurity expert Stephanie Benoit-Kurtz, is fake websites that often lure in customers through email links.(WIS)
Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 5:39 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Cyber Monday deals are expected to reign in billions of dollars in just one day and cybersecurity experts say online scams could put a damper on the holiday for some shoppers.

One of the biggest scams is fake websites that often lure in customers through email links, according to cybersecurity expert Stephanie Benoit-Kurtz from the University of Phoenix.

“Last year alone during the shopping season there were over 100,000 websites that were stood up in storefronts that were actually fraudulent; taking advantage of users and compromising their credit cards,” said Benoit-Kurtz.

Cyber Monday in 2020 brought in $10.8 billion in revenue, according to CNBC. Cybersecurity experts say fake websites masquerading as the real deal also post links on social media or advertisements claiming great deals on hard-to-find items.

Gift card scams are also on the rise, says Benoit-Kurtz. Scammers may email and ask you to buy a gift card, then they may use the card and sell it to an unsuspecting victim.

“And so, you think you’re getting a super deal on a gift card, but you’re actually funding the theft of a gift card from another,” said Benoit-Kurtz.

To avoid being scammed while you’re searching the web for deals, experts say:

  • Avoid clicking on links sent via email. Instead, type in the name of the website you’d like to visit in your browser. That way, you’ll be more likely to end up on the correct website.
  • Use websites you’ve used before. If you’re shopping with a new seller you haven’t used before, try googling the store or searching the Better Business Bureau to make sure it’s a reputable store before you buy.
  • Use a single credit card for online shopping. Avoid using a debit card or ATM card that’s tied to important financial accounts such as paychecks, loans, or rent and mortgage payments. When a credit card is used, it can be easier to track online purchases and notice if there is unusual activity.
  • Complete your online shopping with a secure Wi-Fi connection. Public Wi-Fi could put your personal information in jeopardy.
  • Visit websites that begin with “https. That will ensure you’re entering your card information into a secure website.

Experts say if you notice unusual activity on your card, you should report the incident to your credit card company immediately to make sure it doesn’t continue.

Copyright 2021 WIS. All rights reserved.

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