12 Ways To Shop Securely and Safely This Cyber Monday

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Cyber Monday is perhaps the most important day of the year for online Christmas shopping, which unfortunately makes it an opportune time for hackers and con artists to carry out cybercrimes like identity theft, phishing scams and other types of fraud. However, by taking steps like keeping an eye out for suspicious advertisements and maintaining a secure internet connection, you can improve your chances of avoiding financial loss over the holidays.

Read below for 12 crucial Cyber Monday safety tips that can help you find the best deals online without putting your personal information at risk.

Key Takeaways:

  • Some of the signs that a website may be unsafe to purchase from include a URL beginning with “http,” the lack of a lock icon next to the URL, discounts that seem too good to be true, spelling and grammar inconsistencies and suspicious terms listed in the fine print.
  • It’s important to research a business before giving them money and, when in doubt, stick to well-known retailers and their official mobile apps.
  • You should only input sensitive data online if you can verify that your computer and internet connection are secure to minimize the risk of hackers obtaining your personal information.
  • If you notice a charge to your credit card that you believe is fraudulent, you should be able to dispute the charge and get a refund by contacting your credit card company within 60 days.
  • Homeowners insurance covers package theft but you will likely need an additional cyber protection endorsement to insure yourself against cybercrimes.

When Is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is an event that takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving each year, during which many businesses put items on sale and offer various promotions in their online stores. In this way, it is basically the digital equivalent of Black Friday.

What Are the Most Common Safety Issues on Cyber Monday?

If you’re not careful on Cyber Monday, you could open yourself up to multiple types of cybercrimes that can allow bad actors to access sensitive data and ultimately steal your money.

Online Fraud

Online shoppers need to be wary of having their credit card information stolen and their money used in unauthorized ways. In 2021, TransUnion found that nearly 20% of online commercial transactions between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday were marked as potentially fraudulent by businesses in the United States subscribed to TruValidate, meaning the businesses outright denied the online purchases or suspected them to be fraudulent due to similarities they shared with other fraudulent transactions.[1]


As you shop for gifts online leading up to the holidays, you should be aware of various scams so you can avoid them or, at the very least, recognize when you have been scammed and respond quickly. Common scams on Cyber Monday include:[2]

  • Non-delivery scams: After placing an order online, you should receive an order confirmation email that includes a tracking number. If you don’t, you should reach out to the company you bought the item from right away and, if you cannot easily make contact, it’s possible that you gave money to a scammer and the item won’t be delivered.
  • Gift card scams: While Christmas shopping, you should never buy something from an online store that requires you to purchase a gift card from a different business and provide the numbers on the back of the card. Scammers generally like gift cards because they aren’t tied to a specific account and it can be difficult for you to get a refund for money you spent on a gift card.
  • Fake order scams: If you receive an email saying there was an issue with an order you don’t remember placing, you should be hesitant to click on any links in that email. Even if the email seems to be from a legitimate company, it’s possible that it is simply a deceptive attempt to get you to provide your credit card or banking information.
  • Fake delivery scams: Similarly, you could be the subject of a fake delivery scam if you receive an email claiming a product you don’t remember ordering is ready for delivery. If you receive such a message, don’t click any links in the email or provide any sensitive data.
  • Fake website scams: In some cases, con artists will design websites that look similar to the websites of legitimate businesses like Amazon or Walmart. If you fail to notice the inconsistencies on the website, you could end up handing over your credit card information to a fraudster.


If you allow a retailer to store your personal information, you could become the victim of identity theft in the event that the retailer is targeted by a cyberattack that leads to a data breach. Attempted cyberattacks targeting retail organizations around the world increased by 20% during the 2018 holiday shopping season, suggesting customer data could be particularly vulnerable to being accessed by hackers on Cyber Monday.[3]

What Are the Best Ways To Stay Safe on Cyber Monday?

See below for an overview of some of the most important safety tips for Cyber Monday shopping.

1. Only Trust Secure Sites

Before inputting any of your personal data on a website, it’s important to make sure the site is encrypted, meaning it converts your data into a code that mitigates the risk of unauthorized access. There are two main things to check for when you want to know if a website is secure.[4]

  • URL: The URL for a secure website will begin with “https” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) rather than “http.” This means that any information you share is encrypted as it passes from your web browser to the website’s server.
  • Lock icon: Secured websites should have a lock icon to the left of the URL, which also indicates that the connection between your browser and the server is encrypted. By clicking on the lock icon, you can see additional security details like how much information the website is storing on your computer and whether you have saved any passwords for the website.

SSL and HTTPS website security indicator illustrations

2. Shop With Reputable Retailers

For the most part, it’s best to buy presents online from established ecommerce brands with proven track records like Macy’s and Target. If you see good Cyber Monday deals advertised by a website you’ve never heard of, you should research the company to see if you can find any reviews or other outside information verifying that the company is legitimate. Steer clear of a website if there isn’t any readily available information confirming that the company behind it is real and trustworthy.

3. Avoid Deals That Are “Too Good To Be True”

Another potential indicator of fraud is if a website offers savings that are unmatched by any other retailers. Even if the near-unbelievable deal seems to be coming from a reliable source, it may be worth inspecting the website more closely to verify that you’re shopping from the right company.

Remember that cybercriminals can create websites and social media posts that closely resemble those created by well-known businesses.

As a result, you should keep an eye out for grammar errors in web copy and slight misspellings or alterations in the website URL or social media handle since these can be telltale signs of a malicious copycat.

4. Shop From a Secure Computer

When shopping online, try to avoid using shared or public-use computers such as those in libraries or offices since someone could get on the computer after you and easily access your information. Alternatively, someone could simply stand behind you and take note of your credit card number and similar information as you type it in.

You should also be mindful of the internet network you are connected to whenever you share sensitive data online. For example, it’s usually safe to shop online while connected to public Wi-Fi but you should avoid doing so if the website you are shopping from isn’t encrypted, especially if your lost data wouldn’t be covered by any kind of cyber insurance.

In addition, you may want to avoid typing personal information into a webpage if you aren’t sure who set up the Wi-Fi network you are using. For example, if you plan on connecting to the Wi-Fi in a public space like a coffee shop, you should talk to an employee to make sure you are connecting to the correct network rather than an impostor network that has the same name as the coffee shop.

5. Make Sure Your Connection Is Secure

Even if you opt to do your online shopping at home, there are steps you need to take to make sure your home Wi-Fi network is protected from hackers such as the following:[5]

  • Update your router settings to WPA3 Personal or WPA2 Personal
  • Buy a new router if those options aren’t available
  • Give your router a unique administrative username, network name, network password and router admin password
  • Regularly check for new software updates to your router
  • Deactivate remote management, Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) features
  • Set up a secondary Wi-Fi network for guests
  • Log out as administrator
  • Make sure your router’s firewall is turned on
  • Take steps to secure all of the devices that are connected to your Wi-Fi network

6. Review Credit Card and Bank Statements if Shopping Frequently

During the holiday season, you should frequently check for fraudulent charges on your credit card or money erroneously withdrawn from your bank account. This ensures that you can dispute charges in a timely manner and hopefully avoid losing money or taking a hit to your credit score due to being unable to pay your full credit card balance.

It’s generally recommended that you use a credit card rather than a debit card whenever you’re shopping online.[6] Since the money doesn’t automatically come out of your account when you use a credit card, it’s typically easier to dispute charges and get a refund when you use a credit card than when you use a debit card.

7. Create Stronger Passwords

Rather than reusing passwords, you should come up with unique and strong passwords for every important website you need to log in to. You can strengthen your passwords by using a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. In addition, you shouldn’t include any personally identifying information in your passwords such as your name or birthday.

Since keeping up with several distinct passwords can be a hassle, consider taking advantage of a password manager. These tools can help you avoid data loss perils by generating new passwords for you, storing them in an encrypted database and automatically filling in online forms on any given webpage with the correct password for that site.

8. Never Click on Links That You’re Not Familiar With

Don’t click on links you receive in an email from a company or organization you don’t recognize because malicious links could install malware onto your computer, potentially enabling whoever sent the email to steal your data. Even if you think you recognize where the email is coming from, it’s helpful to check the email address to make sure it’s legitimate so you don’t fall for a phishing scam.

9. Enable 2-Step Verification

Using Google’s 2-Step Verification or a similar multi-factor authentication system can create an extra layer of digital protection by requiring you to perform multiple steps before logging in. For example, accessing certain data on your own computer could require you to type in both your password and a verification code that is texted to you.

Although it can be burdensome to go through these extra steps every time you want to log in to a certain website, it also ensures that your accounts can’t be easily hacked even if your password is leaked, which can go a long way toward protecting your home Wi-Fi network from remote cyberattacks.

10. If Available, Use the Retailers’ App

If you plan to do your shopping on a smartphone rather than a laptop or other computer, you should consider going directly to a retailer’s mobile app rather than looking their website up on a search engine. It can be harder to verify that a website is secure on a mobile web browser since you can’t easily see the website’s URL to check for the “https” at the beginning. As a result, shopping on an app downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play is generally a safer way to make sure you are buying gifts from the right source.

11. Read the Fine Print

In general, reading the fine print can draw your attention to questionable terms and help you avoid scams. For example, federal law only requires your credit card company to respond to disputed charges if you inform the company about the phony charges within 60 days of receiving them.[7]

As a result, you shouldn’t buy anything from a website if the fine print mentions that your order might not be delivered for more than 60 days. Not only would your presents come in too late for Christmas but your credit card could be charged and you might be unable to dispute the charge if you wait the full 60 days.

12. Monitor Your Deliveries

If you receive a notification that your package has been delivered or if the expected delivery date comes and goes but you don’t see it outside your home, you should report the missing package to your local post office or the company that was in charge of delivering the package as promptly as possible.

You may have become the victim of package theft if there is evidence that the package was in fact delivered to your home at one point. In this case, you may be able to request a refund or replacement from the company you bought the item from, dispute the charge through your credit card company or file a claim with your homeowners insurance company.

What Should I Do if I’m a Victim of Online Fraud or Scams on Cyber Monday?

There are various steps you can take depending on whether a scammer has access to your money, personal information or computer. If you are the victim of online fraud, consider doing the following as necessary:[8]

  • Contact your credit or debit card company to dispute fraudulent charges and ask for a refund
  • Ask your bank to reverse fraudulent withdrawals and put the money back in your account
  • If you spent money on a gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency, contact the appropriate company to see if it’s possible to undo the transaction
  • Reach out to the United States Postal Inspection Service if you sent cash by mail and ask them to intercept the package
  • Report instances of identity theft and start monitoring your credit at IdentityTheft.gov
  • Change your passwords and make them stronger
  • Update your computer’s security software
  • Get in touch with your service provider if your cell phone has been compromised

If a package you ordered online is stolen from your porch or vehicle, it should be covered by homeowners insurance, although in many cases a single package may not be valuable enough to justify paying your deductible and dealing with a potential increase in your homeowners insurance rates due to filing a claim.

Conversely, a standard home insurance policy most likely won’t cover any losses related to cybercrimes. However, some insurance companies offer identity theft and personal cyber insurance endorsements that can help cover the costs of restoring lost data, responding to extortion attempts and recovering from financial losses caused by online fraud.[9]

Shop for Home Insurance With Identity Theft Coverage


When was the first Cyber Monday?

The phrase “Cyber Monday” was first used in a press release from Shop.org in 2005, although the trend of online sales increasing on the Monday after Thanksgiving started before then.[10]

Is it safe to shop online during Cyber Monday sales?

Shopping online on Cyber Monday should be safe as long as you follow various security tips like using strong passwords, securing your internet connection, watching out for fraudulent charges and knowing how to recognize a scam before you fall victim to it.

Does homeowners insurance cover me on Cyber Monday?

A standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover losses related to cybercrimes but you may be able to better protect yourself by adding personal cyber insurance or identity theft insurance as a policy endorsement.

Does home insurance cover package theft?

Yes, home insurance generally covers package theft.


  1. TransUnion. “Suspected E-Commerce Fraud Attempt Rates Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday Increase 25% Compared to the Rest of the Year.” Accessed Oct. 23, 2023.
  2. Oregon Department of Justice. “Beware of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Scams.” Accessed Oct. 23, 2023.
  3. VMware Carbon Black Threat Analysis Unit. “2019 Holiday Threat Report.” Accessed Oct. 23, 2023.
  4. University of Wisconsin–Madison Information Technology. “2 Ways To Tell if Your Communication to a Website Is Secure.” Accessed Oct. 23, 2023.
  5. Federal Trade Commission. “How To Secure Your Home Wi-Fi Network.” Accessed Oct. 23, 2023.
  6. Michigan Department of Attorney General. “Credit Card v Debit Card - Know the Difference.” Accessed Oct. 23, 2023.
  7. Federal Trade Commission. “Using Credit Cards and Disputing Charges.” Accessed Oct. 23, 2023.
  8. Federal Trade Commission. “What To Do if You Were Scammed.” Accessed Oct. 24, 2023.
  9. Mercury Insurance. “Home Cyber Protection Coverage.” Accessed Oct. 24, 2023.
  10. Shop.org. “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year.” Accessed Oct. 24, 2023.

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