Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here, and with that comes the best shopping deals of the year! While these days might draw large crowds for jaw dropping deals it also opens the door for consumer fraud. According to The National Retail Federation, 54 percent of consumers overall plan to spend about the same as last year, with 24 percent planning to spend more. Of these consumers 40 percent of shoppers will use credit cards and debit cards while 18 percent plan to pay with cash. Hackers will be in full force this holiday shopping season, so defense is vital. Here are five tips to protect your information this Cyber Monday.

Use secure connections 

About a quarter of Cyber Monday shoppers will shop on a mobile device. If you plan to shop this way make sure you have a secure connection. For example, connecting to public Wi-Fi can make it easier for a hacker to get your information. If you have to use public Wi-Fi try to save the sensitive banking information until you have a secure connection.

Use credit cards instead of debit cards 

If a hacker gains access to your debit card he or she could empty your account. Your bank will investigate the fraudulent withdrawal; however, you will still have an empty account while the investigation takes place. A hacker could still access your credit card information but you wouldn’t physically be out of the money while the investigation takes place.

Delete Cyber Monday emails with attachments

Cyber Monday emails will be flooding your inbox this time of year. It will be hard to decipher what’s real from what’s fake. If your email contains a zip file it more than likely is fake and probably contains malware. If you are looking to verify a deal, type the URL address directly into the browser instead of clicking on the link provided in the email. These tricks can help limit the possibilities of hackers gaining access to your information.

Watch downloads and pop ups

The ads for Cyber Monday will be in full force in the coming days. These ads will promise you the best savings and provide you with links to redeem each deal. Do not click the link! Research the information first and be weary of shopping apps that pop up overnight. Many pop-ups could contain fake coupons and redirect you to malicious sites. If you see a pop-up coupon that looks too good to be true then trust your gut and exit the site. Make sure to take the necessary precautions as these viruses can be detrimental to your computer.

Be cautious with personal information

If a site starts out by asking you for personal information than it is more than likely a scam. Always check the legitimacy of the website before handing over security passwords and social security numbers.

Taking some extra precautions to protect your information from hackers can make or break your holiday season. The Cochran Firm wishes you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!