Black Friday Shopping the Safe Way

Every year Black Friday lures us from our warm, turkey-smelling homes and out into the freezing, early morning air, all for the promise of sweet deals. It’s no surprise that huge corporations have already beefed up their security, physical and digital, as hackers worldwide are infamous for stealing the information of millions of Americans during the holiday season. To make your Black Friday shopping a success, follow these tips on how to get the deals, the safe way.

The Deals

When it comes to Black Friday shopping, you should think ahead and figure out what items you actually want. After you figure out what you’re going to purchase, do some research and find the best deal.

When you have a clear objective ahead, it’s all about location and timing. Consider how busy your destination might be, how much time you’re willing to spend in that particular store, and how in demand your item is. If you’re planning on making multiple stops, you should prioritize big, long-line items like TVs or computers over small items. Finally bring the ads with you to guarantee that you’ll get that price at check-out.

The Safe Way

Even if you physically go to a store on Black Friday, be aware that your information isn’t 100% safe. No matter what kind of deal it is, it isn’t worth losing your identity or credit card information over it. So, when you research the best deals keep in mind what stores are legitimate and make your information security a priority.

If you’re participating in Cyber Monday, or are purchasing anything online, be sure to update your computer or devices before shopping. Check to see if you have the latest firewall protections and if possible don’t use public Wi-Fi spots in places like coffee shops. Leading up to the shopping season, be wary of links in email ads. By clicking on a link in an email, even if it looks like a legitimate website, you risk the possibility of gaining a virus or inputting your credit card’s information on a fake site. If you find a deal you can’t pass up through an email advertisement, input the website’s name manually through your browser and check to see if the deal is there yourself.

To be extra safe, change your card’s pin numbers after your holiday shopping. Keep a paper trail of all the purchases you made within that period of time. And finally, when in doubt, check your credit score. By monitoring your credit report and score, you can look out for red flags. For example, if an account is opened in your name, or irregular purchase activity is noticed you will receive an alert, and can act quickly to freeze the account and track the thief.

While cyber thieves are rampant during the holiday months, they usually aren’t going to go out of their way to steal your information specifically. As long as you stay mindful about your purchases and vigilantly use safe shopping practices, then your Black Friday experience should be hacker free. Happy shopping!

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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