What You Need to Know About Cyber Monday

Many people stay as far away as possible from Walmart, Target and Best Buy on Black Friday.  Even those who love to shop have nightmares about the one time they decided to brave the crowds only to be stampeded by fellow shoppers hell bent on getting the last 60” TV or X Box available.  On the other hand, some are so invigorated by the thought of an irresistible discount that no crowd OR waking at an ungodly hour will stop them.  

With the advent of Cyber Monday, the same discounts can be had but without the accompanying crowds   Many vendors are even planning a Cyber Week for 2013, some with different sales on each day of the week.  This can be especially beneficial for us RVers because we can take advantage of the sales even if we are not near one of our favorite stores.  If you can be available at a predetermined park or address around shipping time, you can hit the websites of stores with the best buys and even Amazon who has jumped on the holiday discount bandwagon.  So whether you’re planning to get the best deals at Walmart, Target or Best Buy the day after Thanksgiving or take advantage of Cyber Monday discounts on Amazon, now is the time to plan your shopping strategies.
and craziness.

Unfortunately, because of all of the hubbub associated with this time of year, many unscrupulous ones also plan their strategies to perpetrate fraud on unsuspecting shoppers - like identity theft and credit card fraud.  Especially is this true for online sales on Cyber Monday. This info has been compiled from several sources to help have a better and safer Cyber Monday experience.

Stick to Sites and Stores You Trust

This is true no matter when you are shopping online.  Always stick with reputable, trustworthy stores like Amazon or ones you have had prior experience with.  Of course this would include actual stores that you frequent who also have online sites.
It may be tempting to purchase from a generic company or site that you’ve never heard of, but it’s safer to stick with what you know.  These websites tend to surface right around the holidays but then disappear as fast as they came up.  You can research these sites and companies by doing a Google, Bing or Yahoo search on them.  Generally, all sites that are dependable have reviews and comments from users.

Know the Regular Prices of Things in Advance

This just involves a little checking around either in the stores or online in advance.  Amazon and other sites may quote a sale price as being 33% off but generally that is off the manufacturers list price and could be higher than other choices with a lesser discount or even at their regular price.

Register Early at Your Favorite Shopping Places

Go ahead and sign up online at any stores you may be shopping on Cyber Monday. This will save you time later when you're trying to get the deal before it's sold out. While you're doing this, login and check your information at stores you are already registered for. An expired credit card or old address can really slow down the checkout process.
A note about passwords: Used to be I had one password for all my accounts.  Who can remember so many different ones, right?  As more and more of us have learned, (duh) if a hacker or scammer figures out that password, they’ve got access to ALL our accounts, cards, etc.  Even if the company is completely honest, they themselves could become hacked and that would compromise your email and any other accounts with the same password.  While it’s important to have different passwords for all accounts and profiles, it’s especially true when shopping this Cyber Monday. If you must register an account before buying online, make sure the password is unique.  If you shop online often, keep a chart with your shopping passwords.  If it’s a once a year thing, just make a new account or new password each year.  

Consider Prepaid Charge Cards

Some have advocated the use of these reloadable credit cards.  Prepaid cards have several benefits and a few "gotcha's." First, they usually offer the same fraud protection that regular credit cards have so you’re protected from unauthorized activity on your account and your liability to fraudulent charges is limited.  Additionally, if a merchant is less than honest and plans to use your card info for future fraud, the card will no longer be in force unless YOU reactivate it with funds.  I like to use these cards for recurring purchases too because you can prepay only enough on the card for that particular purchase.
Keep in mind, though, that these cards can have added charges so research them before buying to get the best deal.  If you use the card all on one site, you avoid the per transaction fees that are sometimes included.  Be sure toread the small print. 
Are you an impulse buyer?  A prepaid card has the added benefit of KEEPING you on your budget.  As you’ve no doubt experienced, holiday overspending is a real temptation so prepaid cards aligned with your budget will help you stay on budget at the same time protecting you from fraud. So if you plan to use these cards, get them in advance so you have plenty of time to search out the ones with the least hidden fees. 

Use Credit Cards, Not Debit

Some of us are in the habit of using credit cards which does have the advantage of not having to reload dollars when a prepaid amount is used up.  Credit cards also have anti-fraud systems in place that protect you from unauthorized charges to your account.  Some card providers are very ambitious when it comes to watching for fraud on your card, even calling or texting you to verify that you are in fact making a purchase at the time it is being made.  If your credit card information lands in the wrong hands, your liability is limited under Federal law.
Debit cards do not offer this same kind of protection, and any money that gets stolen is debited directly from your checking account.  Ouch!

Too-Good-to-Be-True? Yes It Is

An iPad Air for $25? Don’t believe it.
We’ve heard that phrase from our moms since childhood and Cyber Monday deals are a prime target for these fantastical deals. When you see appliances, iPhones or other electronics for a fraction of their retail price, there’s likely a catch. Scammers aren’t particular though and they sell products of all sorts, so be aware of 'out of this world' offers.
What about that great deal that showed up in your email inbox? Hmmm, never heard of “gottadealforu.com?” Usually these holiday season email ads are attempts at phishing, getting your money or personal info.  They can also be dangerous to your computer if you open mysterious links in those emails.  

Test Your Internet Connection

Make sure your signal strength and speed are optimal.  A slow connection could be the difference between getting or losing out on a deal.  Turn off all other devices, games, etc. and close unneeded files.

Curb Compulsive Buying

Don't but something just because it's a good deal.  If you, or the person you plan to give it to, can't use it, it's not a good deal. 

Are you a Cyber Monday Shopper?

What are your methods for safe and efficient online shopping? Let us know in the comments below!

Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park
Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with , Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

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