CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - More than half of holiday shoppers expect to click to shop on Cyber Monday this year.
The National Retail Federation estimates total online sales for the season at $117 billion.
However, tech experts say beware.
"The Internet is rife with scams that can separate shoppers from their money or steal their personal information," according to the Better Business Bureau. "Some companies may not be able to deliver gifts in time for the holidays."
Before you do any holiday shopping online, make sure you are connected to a secure wireless network.
"Using public wifi on its own is kind of dangerous but adding in your personal information like social security information or credit card information which are very commonly used on the holidays can add a lot more danger to it," Austin Calvert said, a tech expert at Modern Technology. "You never really know which wifi you're hooking up to, you don't know what kind of security they are using."
Calvert recommends not using any public wifi at all.
"Let's say you go to McDonalds and you want to get on their wifi so you can get on Amazon, you really don't know if you're getting their wifi," Calvert said. "Anybody with a router and a vehicle could drive up to a McDonald's hook up their router to a power source broadcast a wifi network with the same name as McDonald's and start collecting information right away."
Calvert said that includes your credit card information and any login information you might use.
The Better Business Bureau says shoppers should also consider these tips:
- Protect your computer. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly.
- Check a site’s security settings before entering financial data, such as a credit card number. If the site is secure, the URL (web address) on the payment page should start with “https://.”
- Shop trustworthy websites: Look for BBB Accredited Business seals on websites and click to confirm that they’re valid. BBB dynamic seals will take you to a site’s BBB Business Profile. You also may find reviews at www.bbb.org.
- Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may display free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs, or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
- Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order, account or a package to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. If you receive such an email, BBB recommends that you pick up the phone and call the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm a problem.
- Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive an item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are any unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have zero-liability policies if someone steals and uses your card number. Check your credit card statement regularly for unauthorized charges. Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
- Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page of an order or emails confirming the order until you receive the item and are satisfied.
- Obtain a tracking number for shipments. If you need the product before the holidays, find out when the seller intends to ship it and, if possible, how it will be shipped. The tracking number can help you find a lost order.
- Know your rights: Federal law requires that orders made by phone, mail or online be shipped by the date promised or within 30 days if no delivery time was stated. If goods aren’t shipped on time, shoppers can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also may reject merchandise if it is defective or was misrepresented.
If your financial information is compromised, the following actions may help in minimizing the damage:
- Notify your bank as soon as possible.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report – Contact the toll-free number of any of the three consumer reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A Fraud Alert notifies potential creditors to contact you and verify your identity before approving a credit request in your name. You only need to contact one of the three companies, because they are required to contact the other two for you.