So ya… It should come as no surprise that things are pretty crazy this time of year in the consumer world. Hoards of eager people swim through the crowds on Black Friday looking for the best deals. Then on Cyber Monday millions of people surf the web looking for the best deals. As web designers we find the antics of Cyber Monday to be even more interesting than the inevitable fights that breakout in your friendly Walmart. That being said let’s take a look at what made headlines for Cyber Monday 2013. The largest story by far was the fact that federal agencies took down over 700 hoax websites to protect consumers.
There are several issues that arise for consumers with these types of websites.
“Consumers who purchase counterfeit products not only buy something of poor quality, but they may also put themselves at risk for identity fraud and possible health risks if the product contains unregulated levels of heavy metals” – Andrew Munoz, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Utah.
You should not assume that just because you are familiar with how the internet works that you are immune to being cheated online.
Ways to protect yourself online
- Take the time to look at the website you are visiting and considering giving your credit card of personal information to. Most of the time these website will look somewhat legitimate, but little details will not quite look right. Notice things like poor grammar, low resolution images, and the URL of the website you are visiting.
- Look up the address and contact information for the website. Go to the contact page. Look for a brick and mortar physical address of the business. Verify that location with Google Places, you can even get a street level view of the business. Be especially wary when there is no straight forward mechanism for customer service, or when their email is not specific to their URL but is connected with a Gmail or Yahoo email account.
- Stick with larger and familiar brands. Make sure that if you are shopping on Amazon that the URL reflects this. Check that you are on a secure website and shopping cart when making your order. You will notice that most websites appear to begin with “http” however when a website is secure make sure that the URL begins with “https” this will denote that the server is secure and your information is being protected.
Again you cannot be too safe online, especially during this time of year. Make sure that you are being smart with your online purchases. It is not worth it so send out your information online for a deal that seems too good to be true. Have fun and happy travels.