Smart tips for safer online shopping

Online sales are expected to grow around 10 percent, according to the National Retail Federation -- and Cyber Monday is just around the corner.

With recent high-profile hacks on Home Depot and Target looming large in the minds of shoppers, CNET's Sumi Das reported on smart ways to keep your information secure while making purchases on your computer and on your phone.

Seth Rosenblatt, a senior writer at, warned that email offers that seem too good to be true probably are. In fact, they could be dangerous. "If a deal shows up in your email, not only could it just be spam, it may also be a phishing attempt," he said. "So if you go to it and enter your login information, you may be passing that off to an entity that is not who you think it is."

The takeaway: Don't click on email links. Instead, type in the url of the store you want to shop from, to ensure that's actually where you end up.

When it comes to paying, you can use a virtual credit card number instead of your actual card number, which can be stolen and used over and over again by thieves. A virtual credit card number is only valid for one purchase at a specific amount, so even if it is compromised, it cannot be used again.

MaskMe, a browser extension, charges a $5 monthly fee to generate virtual card numbers on the fly.

Payment services like Apple Pay and PayPal go far to offer extra protection. Apple Pay uses the fingerprint reader on your phone to validate your identity, and makes your card data unreadable to anyone but the card issuer. PayPal, meanwhile, keeps an eye on your transactions, looking out for fraudulent charges.

"They're going to notice odd or suspicious transactions probably faster," Al Pascual, director of fraud and security at Javelin Strategy & Research told CNET's Das.

Finally, it may be safest to do most of your shopping on a store's app on your smartphone, Pascual advised, because the kind of malware used to hack information online doesn't seem to have been applied yet on mobile devices.