What Do You Do Between Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday? Sofa Sunday
Spend the day before Cyber Monday browsing deals on the newly minted “Sofa Sunday.”
Shop online to score the best holiday deals
The best way to score the best deals from retailers is to sign up for emails. Retailers make it easy on online shoppers to get all their deals straight to the shopper’s inbox. They also often offer exclusive deals to their base that you can’t find anywhere else.
So, if you love a retailer and shop there often, sign up for email alerts. Then, make sure to watch your inbox for any subject lines that fit items on your list. Be careful, an inbox flooded with offers on stuff you don’t need can lead to overspending. So, to avoid impulse purchases from your inbox, only click on an email if the subject line seems to fit something you need to buy. Everything else should go straight to your trash bin.
If you didn’t sign up for emails from a retailer and yet you receive something from them, assume it’s a scam. Any e-commerce website that you reach via an unsolicited email is more likely than not a scam. They want you to enter your credit card information so they can steal it. And the last thing you need to deal with during the holiday shopping season is credit fraud.
So, be smart and immediately delete any emails from retailers you didn’t sign up for. This will help you avoid a very common holiday phishing scam.
As we mentioned above, strictly speaking discount-wise, Cyber Monday may not always be the best day to score the best online holiday deals. You may be able to score better discounts on Thanksgiving night, Black Friday or even after Thanksgiving Weekend ends.
This means you have to do a little work to compare Cyber Monday sales to regular store prices and online sales on other days. With a little investigation, you may find you’re better off shopping online on a different day. This will ensure you spend Cyber Monday scoring the biggest discounts, instead of wasting your time on retail smoke and mirrors.
Once you find a good deal that really is a value, make sure to save the coupon code to your smartphone. If you’re not a huge user of digital wallets, you can also always just write the information down somewhere. But just make sure to take notes of the codes, because there’s nothing worse than missing a sale because you can’t find the right coupon code in the mess of emails in your inbox.
There are several ways that you can verify that a website is secure:
If you don’t see all of the above, you’re not on a secure website and it could be a scam. Ideally, you should also recognize the name of the retailer you’re buying from to ensure they’re legit. That can be hard though, if you’re looking for a specific gift that may not be available through major retailers. So, even if you don’t recognize the retailer name, at least follow the steps above to avoid ID theft.
Hacking your PayPal account isn’t the same as hacking credit card information. And, even if the cyber thief gets your PayPal login and password, they only have access to the funds there. Most people don’t keep high balances in their PayPal accounts, which limits financial risk in case you’re the victim of identity theft.
If you don’t have PayPal (or you don’t like it because not all retailers accept it) get a prepaid credit card. This is a credit card you can get with no credit check; it also doesn’t affect your credit history. You make a deposit to open a credit line of an equal amount. Then you basically use the card like a debit card.
This also limits financial risk because at most, you’ll only loose the funds loaded on the card if it’s compromised. That way, a cyber thief doesn’t get access to your high-limit credit cards.
If you don’t opt for PayPal or prepaid, at the very least avoid using your debit card. The rules for debit card liability are different from credit cards. With credit cards, liability is always limited to $50, regardless of when you notice and report the theft.
Debit cards aren’t so nice about it. There’s a liability clock that determines how much you could be out if your card is stolen. If you notice the theft and report it within 2 days, the liability is also $50. But if it’s after 2 days and up to 60 days, it’s $500. If you notice it after 60 days, there is no limit and you may have to simply eat the loss.
If you think impulse purchases only happen in a store, think again. Retailers spend big bucks to spur you into spending more money online, too. The put up big banner ads on their website and create splash pages that pop whenever you try and go to their homepage. So, the risk of impulse purchases is just as great.
In order to avoid overspending and going outside your budget, always shop with your list. Make sure you have it with you anytime you sit down to shop online or open your shopping apps. This will help ensure you only buy the items you need, instead of being tempted by those shiny display ads.
Speaking of ads, there are a few other tricks that retailers use online to get to you spend.
Look, it’s not like Cyber Monday is a National Holiday. It’s not even like Black Friday, where many employers just give you the day after Thanksgiving off. So, chances are good that you may do some of your Cyber Monday shopping while you’re sitting at work. Bad idea.
Public networks at your office are not secure. Well, they’re probably secure from outside commercial threats, but they’re not meant to be secure for employees to shop. Anyone in your IT department can get access to your computer; they can even login remotely and see what you’re doing as you work. That’s not exactly good for entering credit card information. One less-than-ethical IT employee and you could be at risk of credit fraud or ID theft.
This means that you should not enter sensitive account details or personal information on your public network at the office. You should also avoid shopping on public wi-fi networks and hotspots. Don’t sit at Starbucks and use their free wi-fi to complete all your Christmas shopping. And don’t jump on a hotspot while you’re out in public to shop either.
Again, your boss probably isn’t giving you the day off so you can shop. If you’re going to be at work, make sure that you check your company’s policy about Cyber Monday shopping. Don’t get caught shopping on your smartphone or (even worse) a company workstation and using the hours your boss is paying you to work just to shop. Losing a steady paycheck just to score a deal isn’t exactly a wise financial choice.
If your company will allow you to shop online, make sure to do it safely. Shop on your phone without accessing the company wi-fi. If you’re using your office desktop, don’t checkout at the office. Save the items to your cart, then complete the ordering process at home on a secure connection.