Shopping with your kids on a normal day is a hassle. That hassle becomes a lot worse on Black Friday, when there’s a risk of losing your kids in the crowd, or worse, having them kidnapped, as Forbes cautions. Luckily for moms everywhere, there’s Cyber Monday, a day of online deals. Cyber Monday’s been growing in recent years, with sales jumping by 30 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. While you might not have to worry about losing your kids in the sea of shoppers on Cyber Monday, there are a few things you need to do to protect yourself and your info.
Shop at Home
The convenience of Cyber Monday means you can shop at the library, while sitting with your kids at the park or while enjoying a midday break at a coffee shop. You can shop anytime, anywhere, but, that doesn’t mean you should. Save your Cyber Monday shopping for when you’re home and away from prying eyes. The WiFi Alliance recommends that you avoid revealing anything private online when using a public connection, even if it’s a password protected connection. If you wouldn’t share it out loud in public, don’t share it on a coffee shop’s WiFi.
If you are out and about and absolutely must buy something online right away, use your mobile device and data connection instead of the WiFi option, as Fox News recommends. You’ll avoid accidentally connecting to a compromised wireless hotspot and won’t put your private data at risk. The downside is that unless you have an unlimited plan, you’ll use up precious data for the month.
Trust the Sites You Shop At
Before you enter any personal information onto a website, whether it’s a big name site such as Macys.com or a small, independent e-commerce site, look for the “https” in the address and a little padlock in the address bar. If you aren’t sure of the site’s security, right click on the page and choose “View Page Info” if using Firefox or “Properties” if using Internet Explorer. A box will pop up telling you if the site is encrypted or not, as the BBB explains.
Get Up to Date
As a busy mom, keeping your browser and anti-virus software up-to-date might be pretty low on your list of priorities. However, if you plan on shopping on Cyber Monday, it’s of critical importance. If your anti-virus software has been nagging you to update it, do so before you shop, so that your software is able to spot phony sites or malware. The same is true of your browser. If you aren’t sure if the browser your using is up-to-date or not, a site such as What Is My Browser can help. Visit the site and it will tell you if you’re current or not.
Change Things Up
If you shop at many different sites on Cyber Monday, you’re going to need many different passwords. Using the same password and email address for several sites makes you an easy target for hackers, according to Consumer Reports. If your log-in name and password are the same at your favorite store’s website and your credit card’s website, for example, a hacker can quickly put two and two together and gain access to your accounts. Along with changing up your passwords for each site, create different email addresses to throw potential thieves off of the trail. Instead of using your standard email, create a shopping-specific address. Doing so will cut down on junk and email offers in your regular inbox, too.