With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the winter holidays approaching, what do shoppers need to know in terms of crowds, safe online shopping and credit card security as the year’s biggest retail season approaches?
Black Friday may traditionally represent the start of holiday shopping, but this year expect to see crowds earlier in the season. Early holiday shopping is a continuing trend from last year when one in four shoppers purchased a Christmas gift before Halloween, and approximately 48 percent were done with holiday shopping before Cyber Monday.
While some holiday shoppers will have finished by Thanksgiving weekend, others prefer to do a majority of shopping online during Cyber Monday. This year, 44 percent of the average consumer’s shopping will be done online, according to the the National Retail Federation.
With that many people shopping online, is it safe to trust websites with sensitive information like addresses and credit card information?
It depends. It’s generally safer to use a credit card instead of a debit card when purchasing online or over the phone. Debit cards are directly linked to an account and credit cards are not, making credit cards less vulnerable to instances of fraud and cyber crimes online. Many credit card companies also offer more security features compared to debit cards.
Other ways to stay safe from fraud, identity theft and scams while shopping online this season include only purchasing from reputable brands and companies, frequently checking bank statements and being extra cautious with what information is shared online. For example, no company needs a social security number to process a purchase.
Retailers are also taking precautions when it comes to cybercrime. In the wake of major hacks at companies like Target and Home Depot in recent years, large companies are doing more to protect customers and themselves.
Thanks to new chip-technology credit and debit cards that offer a higher level of security for shoppers, many large companies are incorporating devices that work with these new cards to make stealing credit card information more difficult for hackers.
Merchants that don’t accommodate for chip technology at the register will be liable for any fraudulent activity.