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Black Friday is the unofficial start of the holiday gift-hunting season, followed quickly by the online-exclusive Cyber Monday. Every year, savvy shoppers and bargain hunters across the country hear the siren song of can’t-miss deals – some of which are too good to be true. As consumers flood the web on Black Friday and Cyber Monday searching for the best discounts, so do scammers, hackers and identity thieves for unsuspecting victims to steal information, funds or worse.

Staying secure is imperative to shopping online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To help, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts to avoid getting caught in a scam.

  • Do: Stick with what you know
    Scammers circle the water during high-traffic days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Shop on sites you’ve visited before with positive experiences. Always confirm you’ve navigated to the accurate website by checking the URL and identifying a lock icon to its left.

  • Don’t: Fall for unreasonable bargains
    Cybercriminals try to attract consumers with “can’t-miss incentives” and “one-of-a-kind deals” before unleashing malware onto their devices or hacking into and wiping out their financial accounts. Never enter your personal information into a website that does not seem secure or legitimate. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

  • Do: Arm your accounts with strong passwords
    Your sensitive information is only as secure as your password. Avoid reusing old passwords and ones consisting of generic words, birth dates, number or letter progressions or “password.” The more creative your password, the more protected your accounts will be. Discover top methods hackers use to crack your password and how you can create one that is secure.

  • Don’t: Avoid updating your software
    While tempting, dismissing requests to update the software on your device can be damaging to its defensive wall, which holds hackers at bay. Before you start shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, consider updating your software to be better prepared in case of an attack.

  • Do: Track your spending
    Depending on how much you purchase, keeping track of how much you’ve paid and to whom can be tricky – and thieves are counting on it. Record the date, time, store, item number and amount of each purchase to ensure you know exactly how much you’ve spent and where. Then, monitor your account for charges you did not make and take action immediately.

  • Don’t: Click on suspicious in-message links
    Hackers are sending out text messages and emails disguised as tracking information for a recent purchase. They often urge you to click on a provided link to claim a free gift or verify information. However, clicking on a link may infect your device with malware or enable scammers to access your financial accounts. Always check to see if you are expecting a package, verify the tracking number and never click any link. Learn more about this text scam and how to protect your information.

  • Do: Consider using a secure card
    Many credit cards include enhanced security measures to prepare for fraud. APGFCU® Visa® Credit Cards offer Card Controls to proactively monitor and manage your card’s activity, control spending, block transactions and detect fraud, all through our mobile app. Check out our credit card options and how we are working to keep your purchases safe.

  • Don’t: Shop using unsecured Wi-Fi
    Free or public Wi-Fi is typically not secure and easier for thieves to hack into and steal your information. To be safe, use a private connection when shopping online. The more secure your Wi-Fi, the more protected your transaction will be.

    Check out our Security page for more tips to protect yourself from fraud and remain vigilant.