Cyber Monday is a great day for deals, but it’s also one of the biggest days of the year for identity theft and hacker exploits. Use these 5 tips to stay more private while you’re shopping online today:
1. Do the shopping cart trick to get discounts
If you know ahead of time that you want something, put it in your shopping cart but don’t check out. If you have an account on that site, many sites will email you with a discounted offer for that item (but you’ll probably have to wait at least a week). This trick works all year round, not just on Cyber Monday!
2. Use a privacy tool to block online tracking
The 5 most-visited shopping websites in the US have between 14 and 18 trackers on them that collect your browsing activity, demographic info, and purchase history. Sometimes this data leads to price discrimination, where you’ll see higher prices than someone else for the same item. Block online tracking for free with a browser tool like DoNotTrackMe.
3. Use a masked email when signing up for accounts on shopping sites
Many shopping sites require you to create an account with them to make a purchase, and they’ll often sign you up for unwanted marketing emails without your knowledge. Use a masked email to get your important confirmations, but block it later if you start getting spammed. Masked emails work just like normal emails, but they forward to the personal email inbox that you select, and you can make as many as you want.
4. Use a VPN to make sure your payments are secure
Stop hackers and insecure websites from getting your credit card information by using a VPN when you make your holiday purchases online. Using a VPN secures your connection to all the websites you visit, so think of it like HTTPS (those secure URLs designated by a little padlock in your browser’s address bar) for the entire web. Many VPNs are free and easy to use, like Hot Spot Shield or Private Wifi.
5. Scope out privacy policies
We know they’re dense and a pain to read, but especially if you’re making a major purchase, it pays to read the fine print. One trick is to skip through the policy until you find the section about how the retailer shares your information with third parties or affiliates. The more they share your data, the more likely you are to get spam from them in the future.
Good luck bargain-hunting, and stay private!