Black Friday 2013 turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for retailers, so many are banking on Cyber Monday to improve their holiday season bottom lines. Cyber Monday is the busiest online shopping day of the year already, and if this year’s results are indicative, it is likely to continue to cannibalize Black Friday sales in the future.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday online scams

Cyber Monday is also, however, prime time for cyber criminals, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has put out a note to consumers warning that Cyber Monday can be used as a “powerful platform for scammers to steal money and identities.” She points out that scammers take advantage of the fact that Cyber Monday deals are limited time offers by pressuring consumers to act on the “too good to be true” deal before the limited supplies are gone.

Also see: FedEx Sees Huge Day For ‘Cyber Monday’

Tips to avoid Cyber Monday online scams

  • The first rule to avoid online scams is only shop with major trustworthy retailers. It might be tempting to click on a link to a site offering you a deal $50 cheaper than you saw on a major retailer’s site, but there’s a real chance you will download malware or worse if you provide your credit card or other financial information.
  • Make sure the site where you are shopping uses effective security for passwords or personal data. On pages where you are prompted to enter a password, credit card or other personal information, check for the “s” in “https://” and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol.
  • Always check the privacy policy of an online retailer. The site’s privacy policy will explain what data is being collected and how it will be used. the lack of a privacy policy is a major red flag and means there is a real chance your personal information will be sold to third parties.
  • Always use a credit card instead of a debit card. Federal law permits disputing a charge on a credit card if an item is not received. Also make a point to check your credit card and bank balances frequently. Your account could be cleaned out if you just check your balances at the end of every month.
  • Take steps to protect your computer before you shop online. Update your computer with the latest updates for your spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and always make sure you have a secure firewall in place.