Cyber Monday is the sane, non-masochist’s alternative to Black Friday. You can do all the shopping and deal hunting you want without the inconveniences of waiting on lines, getting trampled when people take “doorbusters” too literally, getting door-dinged in a mall parking deck, or putting on pants. Still, if you’re not careful, Cyber Monday can be dangerous in its own way. Here’s how to avoid identity theft when you whip out your plastic at your laptop today.
1. Make sure your operating system is up to date. I know that those stupid Microsoft updates are annoying, but they’re important. Hackers take advantage of users whose systems are outdated and haven’t been patched up to fix security holes. Finally get that download before hitting up Amazon.
2. Be sure that whatever site you’re shopping from is secure. A small lock icon should appear in your browser to indicate that whichever site you’re Cyber Monday shopping on is a legitimate one. Also be sure to check the actual URL, because a lot of hackers will create look-alike ones to steal your credit card information. If it looks wonky, it probably is.
3. Use a shop’s app. Be sure to download the app from a legit source like Apple or Google Play, then do your shopping there. It’s generally more secure and will help you avoid accidentally typing in an incorrect URL and getting hacked.
4. Use credit over debit. If your identity gets stolen via credit card, you’re only liable for $50 of the damages, per the FTC. If you use your debit card when you get hacked, your liability may reach up to $500.
5. Use two-step authentication. It’s annoying to have to type things in twice or go through an extra step, but it’s even more aggravating to have some douchebag in Nebraska treating himself to a new flatscreen on your dime.