Utica, N.Y. - If you are planning on joining the millions of people buying items online on this Cyber Monday, there are some things to think about that could help you avoid becoming a fraud victim.
Tony Martino, Director of the Northeast Cybersecurity and Forensics Center at Utica College, says there are two basic tips when it comes to buying items online, whether it's on Cyber Monday or any other day of the year. Martino says first, "Use reputable sites, well known reputable websites. They're all having sales, but the big companies have the capacity and capability to best secure information."
Martino says the second big tip is to use your credit card when making a purchase, "Federal law says that you are not responsible for fraud committed with your credit card. If it were fraudulently used or were compromised once it was used at that retailer's site, it could be a little inconvenience, but you're not out any money. Never pay for anything, especially online, through mechanisms that can’t be reversed. For instance, wire transfers, money orders, gift cards, things like that, you can’t reverse those, once that money is taken, it’s gone forever."
Martino says there's also something easy to spot on a website to know that your data will be encrypted, which means it should be safe from being stolen, "If you look at your browser on your phone or on your computer, in the URL, which is at the address bar at the top of the website, the website will begin with HTTPS. The S means that it is secure. That means that everything that you type in and submit will be encrypted before it goes in, and everything that comes back will be encrypted before it comes back."
Finally, Martino says Cyber Monday is also a perfect opportunity for scammers to strike, especially on auction sites like Ebay or posting sites like Craigslist. Martino says one such scam is called Overpayment, "They put something up for sale, let’s say for $1000, a person buys it and then they send you a $1,500 check and then ask to refund the balance quickly through something like a wire transfer, something instantaneous, and then come to find out the original payment doesn’t clear. So now they're out the original amount, plus the extra."
Martino says a lot of being safe online comes down to common sense, "In so many cases, the old adage is, if it sounds too good to be true, most likely it is."