TAMPA, Fla. — Cyber Monday has arrived.
One of the biggest online shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday in 2018 saw American consumers spend a record-breaking $7.9 billion in online sales.
But before pulling out that credit card, shoppers are being advised to take precautions.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is warning shoppers to beware of scams.
"This year, online shoppers are projected to spend $143.7 billion nationwide in November and December alone," Patronis said. "Cyber Monday provides the perfect environment for cyber criminals because many shoppers guards are down due to their expectation of good deals. We all enjoy the convenience of online and mobile shopping, but it’s important to shop smart. Be alert and verify before you click."
5 Steps to Protect Yourself from Cyber Monday Scams
1. Do you know the retailer? Stick to retailers you know and preferably, have shopped with before.
2. Have you done your research? If you aren't familiar with a retailer, always look into them before buying products online. Be diligent in checking customer reviews and review complaints received by the Better Business Bureau.
3. Does your Wi-Fi connection leave you vulnerable? Avoid connecting to pubic Wi-Fi while making any purchases—this can give hackers access to your transactions.
4. Is this website secure? Always check a website's security using several tricks: Look for a URL that begins with "https." That "s" indicates that the website is more secure. Also check for the lock icon next to the web address on your browser.
5. Could this be a coupon scam? Online retailers often offer coupons on Cyber Monday, and scammers may copy this method in hopes of tricking consumers into providing financial information to use their fake discount code or gift card.