Holiday shopping online this year is going to be bigger than ever. With an exponential adoption of mobile devices, and online-only deals enticing customers to retailers websites, this year is anticipated to break records. But with e-commerce always comes the danger of identity theft and stolen credit card information. Scammers and phishers have gotten creative every year in the way they've been able to steal information, but we've gathered some tips on how you can avoid being a victim online this holiday shopping season. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to learn what agencies are predicting for this year's holiday shopping season, the common ways scammers have used to steal personal information in the past, and seven tips on what you can do to make sure you stay safe online.


Hello, and welcome to The Daily Brown Bag. Today, we’re going to be talking about Cyber Monday and how to protect yourself. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad, and welcome to our Brown Bag. Cyber Monday is a great phenomenon for on-site retailers. We want to talk about some of the numbers here, but we also want to talk about some of the dangers that come along with Cyber Monday. According to ComScore, U.S. consumers spent $1.46 billion on Cyber Monday last year. For those not familiar with the term, Black Friday is a term that’s been around for a long time. Cyber Monday is sort of the follow up after Black Friday when people head back to work and like to do a lot of online purchasing for the holiday season. There’s a prediction that this year is going to be a gangbuster, topping $2 billion which is a 20% increase from 2012.

IBM is still talking about the percentage of those purchases that will be done via mobile, saying that 18% of Cyber Monday purchases will now be done via mobile devices, and that’s a real big increase. We’ve been covering these stats for a number of weeks, here, Chad. Seventy percent over last year, so mobile is going to be a really big player this year, more so than last year, though a really big majority of purchases-- over 82%-- will be done via desktop. So, while there’s going to be a lot of money changing hands on Monday, that also means that it’s a favorite time of the year for scammers to get into the action, and that means consumers need to watch out and protect themselves. Here are some of the top scams you might need to be on the lookout for, according to ScamBook. One is the free $1000 Best Buy gift card text message scam, and I sort of remember this one from last year. I think I might have almost fallen for that. There are others. There are false videos and e-cards flying around that contain dangerous viruses.

These are related to Cyber Monday because they’re trying to get onto your machine before Norton and the other antivirus softwares can detect them and pull credit cards while you’re running lots of transactions for your holiday shopping. There are also these false pop-ups about Google searches that might pose a threat. They get you to click on something which actually then installs malware or a virus, again, all geared toward stealing your credit card. So, you’ve really got to be on the lookout, and I guess, Chad, that’s the discussion this morning. What should consumers do to protect themselves as they head into Cyber Monday?

Yeah, it’s always interesting. Wherever there’s an opportunity, there are plenty of people there to try to take advantage of that. I think the best advice is what the FBI puts out:

1. Their number one tip is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. So, with that in mind, let’s go through this list of some other ideas.

2. If you don’t have virus-scanning technology on your computer, get one. If you do have one, make sure the virus definitions are up to date. That’s going to solve any issues of people, as you said, trying to get malware on your computer so they can catch a credit card as you’re shopping online. Make sure you use good passwords.

3. Avoid public networks. It’s amazing-- there’s been a lot of research about how when you’re hooking up to public Wi-Fi, a lot of people can intercept all your traffic and get information. It’s really kind of scary stuff, so avoid public networks with credit cards, at least.

4. Make sure you pay attention to any emails that come in. There are a lot of phishing scams, which means that it looks like an email from your bank, or it looks like it’s an email from Best Buy, but it’s really someone trying to phish information from your credit card or email information from you, so be very, very careful with those. In fact, look at the link, and I usually type it in without clicking on the link to see if I can even get to that site to make sure that I’m not getting phished if it’s something a little too good to be true.

5. Another thing is watching pop-ups. Another tactic to try and get your information is to pop up something along the way.

6. On the mobile side of things, make sure you use your lock screen so that if you’re out shopping, someone doesn’t pick up your phone and get information in.

7. Use credit cards over debit cards. There are a few more safeguards and protections for customers when they’re using credit cards over debit cards, not to mention that it’s not coming directly out of your account.

So, seven tips to protect you as you go into Cyber Monday.

Yeah, great suggestions, Chad, and those are really best practices for any online e-commerce, but especially heading into the holiday season, knowing that that’s when the scammers gear up for their best sales, believe it or not, of the year as well, to mirror what’s happening with everyone else. If you follow these tips and think, “I’m covered there, but I’m still really worried about identity theft, there are a couple stronger measures you can do above and beyond these sorts of things that are your day-to-day habits. You can also register with Experian or one of the other credit rating score places that will monitor what’s happening on your credit cards, and for a small monthly fee will actually alert you when they see patterns and massive charges coming from places that they typically shouldn't. So, you can actually go a step further than your day-to-day practices if you’re worried about identity theft.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Is it something that’s on your radar? Should it be? What are you telling your customers. We’d like to hear how the internet marketing community is getting ready to keep their customers safe from scams. That’s our Brown Bag for today! We hope to see you tomorrow. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel.