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How To Be Safe and Secure In Your Online Holiday Shopping

a woman checks her account statuses during the holidays with online banking

Happy Cyber Monday to online shoppers! For those who haven’t heard of the unofficial holiday, Cyber Monday is essentially the digital version of Black Friday, an online event hosted the Monday after Thanksgiving to encourage online shopping. 2020’s Cyber Monday falls on today’s date, November 30.

Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic this year, more and more consumers have elected to do their shopping online, making this year’s Cyber Monday an extravaganza. Last year’s Cyber Monday shattered records for U.S. eCommerce sales with $9.2 billion in revenue, and December 2020 sales are expected to increase by 27%.

Keeping secure in your online purchases is important year-round, but both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are notorious for online scams of all types. With this year’s uptick in digital sales and transactions, bad cyber actors have flourished – in September, the New York Times reported that Americans have lost $145 million this year to coronavirus fraud in 2020. This year alone, a staggering 80.5% of online consumers have reported losing money to online purchase scams since the pandemic began.

With these facts in mind, there are some tips you should keep in mind for safe and secure online spending as you gear up for the season of holiday giving. Keep reading to find out more.

Be Safe With Your Online Shopping

  • Beware of offers that seem “too good to be true.” Most Cyber Monday and other holiday sales will feature deals and products with relatively similar pricing to each other. Be wary if a purchase seems significantly cheaper than the rest of its kind, because it may not be legitimate.
  • Use a credit card when you shop. Credit cards provide an added layer of security if a purchase goes wrong. Be extra wary of sellers that ask you for transactions with a gift card.
  • Research websites before making a purchase. You can visit to check the validity of certain websites. If there isn’t much feedback that you can find on a particular vendor, the site is likely newer and could potentially be fraudulent. For peace of mind, it may be worth it to stick with shops you know are legitimate, even if the pricing runs a little higher.

Avoid Online Fraud

  • Watch out for phishing scams. If you’re shopping online, you’re bound to receive several emails with receipts and confirmations of purchase. Scammers know this, so be cautious of suspicious-looking emails or links you receive in your inbox, and delete anything that looks fishy. If a website requests more information beyond what’s needed for a purchase, then you should close out.

    In one of our recent blog posts, we discussed steps you can take if you find yourself victim to a phishing scam or other form of fraud
  • Pay securely and check your connection. Always double-check the URL of the website of your purchase! Check for the padlock icon in your address bar, or for an “s” after http:// to ensure the website is secure. If a debit card option isn’t available for payment, only use trusted payment sites, such as PayPal or GoogleWallet.
  • Keep an eye out for unauthorized purchases. Regularly monitoring your accounts through Digital Banking online or on your phone is the most convenient way to monitor any unauthorized purchases. If you aren't signed up, click here to complete the first-time enrollment process for Academy Bank’s Digital Banking on your desktop, smartphone or tablet.

    You can then sign up for automatic account alerts to track your debit card and/or credit card transactions.*

    You can up your security measures further by ensuring your card has an EMV chip.
With the holidays just around the corner, online sales are bound to skyrocket, especially given the circumstances of 2020 and the cited statistics above. Scammers thrive during the chaos of holiday spending, so although it’s important to be vigilant in your online purchases year-round, keep an extra eye out this holiday season with some of these pointers. Happy shopping, and have a safe Cyber Monday.

Want some more info on how to avoid online scams and fraud? Academy Bank has you covered.

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