Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving – and use caution on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday – here are some tips for keeping things safe & healthy!
Thanksgiving weekend used to be all about turkey, football, and family but in recent years – for better or for worse – it’s all about the shopping. One can now progress from the biggest shopping day of the year – Black Friday – right through to Cyber Monday in a whirlwind frenzy of shopping. Except this year, Black Friday may start early at some of the nation’s biggest box stores. In what many are calling “Grey Thursday,” some stores are starting sales early, on Thanksgiving Day itself – much to the consternation of some store employees.
If you plan to brave the crowds, here are some tips for a Black Friday Personal Safety Plan to keep from being trampled, mugged, scammed, or otherwise abused. You might also want to check out these Black Friday Shopping Tips from Consumer Reports for some best shopping practices.
Saturday, November 24, 2012 is Small Business Saturday, a day we can really get behind. The purpose of this day is to to celebrate and support local small businesses. Why not support your friends and neighbors? It’s a great way to ensure that your local community continues to thrive and grow.
Cyber Monday is all about online shopping – no crowds, but be alert for scammers, spammers, and phishers. Shopping online can be fun and comfortable, but you need to take steps to ensure that your shopping is secure and safe.
Here are a few safe shopping tips:

  • Make sure that your web security, anti virus and malware detection programs are updated and that your firewall is on. Many experts suggest the “belt and suspenders” approach of having more than one program as a backup.
  • Make sure that your browsers are up to date.
  • Watch out for email phishing offers, they are getting pretty good at creating authentic-looking emails spoofs of mailings from big name entities. Don’t click the link, type in the website.
  • Make sure that any purchases are made in a secure environment – check for “https” in the address in your web browser – that all-important “s” stands for “secure” – never conduct a transaction without it.
  • Public Wi-Fi is not secure so avoid doing banking and transactions that would expose your credit cards, passwords, or personal info.
  • Before shopping, it’s a good time to update your passwords. Create unique passwords for each site – here are some tips for creating secure passwords.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for “free” gift offers and contests from unknown sites – don’t give away any personal information or credit card numbers to anyone you don’t know. Stick with reputable sites and brand names.

Here are a few more tips:
11 Tips for Safe Online Shopping from PC Magazine
Holiday Shopping Dos and Don’ts
Consumer Reports Guide to Online Security
OnGuard Online

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