BALTIMORE - It hit the record books last year with consumers spending about $1-billion on Cyber Monday. But retailers aren't the only ones who want your cash. Scam artists also want a piece of the action when you shop online.
Forget the door busters and the long lines because deal seekers who want to avoid the crowds can simply log onto their computers. Angie Barnett with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland says, "It's a great opportunity and great deals to be had."
But Barnett believes crossing off your list online also gives scammers an opportunity to get your personal information. That's why the BBB is offering tips to keep you safe when you're cyber shopping. Barnett says, "First thing is you need to make your computer your friend. By that I mean you've got to have current, up to date anti-spyware and all that information that puts security into your system."
Because going without security puts you at risk and so does shopping on sites that aren't secure. So before you buy online, Angie says you should check for two things, "The padlock on the bottom right hand corner and that the Url turns to an https for secure."
Secure shopping also means thinking twice before clicking links sent to your email, advertising deals or coupons. Scammers love to send those and then they'll spoof the websites of major chains to gain access to your information, making a scam site that looks just like the real thing to fool you.
Instead of clicking those links, you should independently find the sites you want to shop and plug in codes for those last minute deals. Angie says you should also use a credit card when you're shopping online, not a bank card. Barnett says they offer better protection if you get scammed. In addition, if you get hacked, scammers won't have access to your bank account.
And keep in mind, since many Cyber Monday deals will come to you through your smart phone, Barnett says you should make sure that's updated with the latest security software too.