Free up some time during the holidays by shopping online. Digital strategy expert Christopher Pollard has some insight on cyber shopping to guide us for the Cyber Monday crunch and beyond. Pollard lives and breathes digital innovation daily as V.P. of Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association and Digital Strategy Director for Go East. Go East is a strategic and creative brand agency based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Christopher got his start in advertising with the StarTribune after graduating from Hamline. He has pursued his interest in all things digital for the last 15 years. Here is his advice.
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Make a list and check it twice
Christopher advises to make a list early of all things you want to buy for friends and family. That gives you enough time to check prices before Cyber Monday so you can be sure you are getting a value. Having a list also helps you stay on budget. Look for other savings like free shipping. Prime the pump by signing up for email notices with your favorite retailers.
Make sure your computer anti-virus protection is current. Pollard suggests that you use the latest version of your system's browser. That way you can have a good experience as you shop for Cyber Monday steals.
If it's too good to be true, it probably is
"Do not click on a link from a source you do not know," says Christopher. "If you receive an email with an amazing offer, it might be a phishing attack. There are people out there who would like to take your money and spoil your holiday season." You can always go straight to a retailer's website to scout out those great deals. And be careful of those promo links.
"Holiday shopping should be a pleasant experience, if you follow a few simple rules," according to Pollard.
- Do not shop online with public computers.
- Do not shop online with your own computer on insecure networks. Your local café, airport or library may offer Wi-Fi, which is a nice convenience, but there might be a hacker standing by ready to read your credit card numbers or steal your identity. Why take the risk?
- Watch to see whether a public Wi-Fi you are using requires a password. This should provide a more secure shopping experience.
- Always check when you are online that your Internet shopping site is encrypted. You can tell because it is an "https" site.
- Print your payment and purchase information so you have a record of your purchase.
- Use a credit card and not a debit card. While you may get your money back if your card was hacked, it is a lot easier if the credit card company is holding the debt instead of you.
- Use strong passwords of eight or more characters and change them regularly.
"It's easier than ever to buy where you want to be" according to Pollard. "But that doesn't mean you should keep your guard down." Watch out for scam apps that are posing as real apps and be cautious if a mobile app asks for too much personal information.
Be jolly and have fun
"Have some fun and enjoy the season. Your shopping will be done in a few hours, giving you time to have some fun and wear your favorite holiday sweater." Christopher jokes he will give you bonus points if you wear your sweater while shopping.
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.
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