Courts & Crime

On 'Cyber Monday,' watch out for scams

On Friday, shoppers hit the malls. On Monday, they'll hit their keyboards.

If past patterns follow, "Cyber Monday" will be one of the biggest online shopping days of the year — and a prime time for identity theft and other scams.

A host of consumer and financial organizations are alerting consumers to be on guard, whether using their home or work computers. (A survey found one-third of workers saying they plan to shop online while at work.)

Cyber crooks "follow seasonal trends and create holiday-related Web sites, scams and other convincing e-mails that can trick even the most cautious users," warned Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, a security company.

Users who are unaware of fake phishing, Trojan infections, phony gift cards or tweet traps may need a crash course in the many ways online purchasing can go awry.

Here’s a roundup of advice from McAfee, Capital One Financial Corp. and Intersections Inc., a risk management service.

•Be sure your anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software are up to date.

•Look for an unbroken key or padlock at the bottom of your Web browser page before you use any online shopping site.

•When asked to provide payment information, be sure the beginning of the URL address changes from http to shttp or https (the s indicates the information is secured).

•Don't open attachments or click on e-mail links from unfamiliar sources.

•Be aware that fake charities often appear during the holidays, designed to do nothing more than get access to your credit card information. Before you click to donate, check out the organization online. Look for a phone number and a Web page, and run an online search to make sure the charity is legitimate.

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