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VERIFY: Does Cyber Monday increase shoppers' risk of getting hacked?

The major shopping event is expected to attract more than 68 million people online. So what does that mean for consumers' security?

ATLANTA — 'Tis the season, and more than 68 million people are expected to take advantage of bargains and deals on Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation. 

Just thinking about all those purchases, you might wonder if the spike in online shopping comes with an increased risk of getting hacked.

11Alive's Liza Lucas turned to cybersecurity expert Andy Green with Kennesaw State University to verify.

"Criminals have a target-rich environment much more so on Cyber Monday than your average shopping day," Green said. "So from their perspective there are a lot more targets that they can try and take advantage of...but from individual consumers' perspective, the risks that you face aren't typically any different than what you face on any other day."

So is the risk of getting hacked greater for shoppers on Cyber Monday?

According to Green, that is false. 

"The things consumers should be concerned about continue to be the same any other day of the year," he said, emphasizing the importance of using unique passwords for each account so if one gets compromised, all aren't vulnerable. 

But that doesn't get rid of holiday shopping fears. 79 percent of shoppers are worried about spending at retailers with data breaches, according to Deloitte's holiday spending study.

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We also reached out to the Identity Theft Resource Center, and according to VP of Communications Charity Lacey, "consumers should be aware every day when they are shopping." Lacey echoed that Cyber Monday is a "volume proposition for thieves." Here is the nonprofit's full statement and tips for safe shopping:

“Consumers should be aware every day when they are shopping – online or in a brick and mortar retailer. Cyber Monday is a volume proposition for thieves. With the shear volume of transactions, security can be a challenge. E-skimmers and other types of malware will pop-up undoubtedly on trusted sites, but being a smart consumer will help with minimizing the risk of exposure. Here are some tips for smart Cyber Shopping in advance of the holidays:

  • Use only trusted retail sites – clicking that social media ad might take you to a great deal, but if you haven’t already shopped with that particular retailer you may receive inferior goods or open your credentials up for compromise.
  • Use a credit card – not your debit card. If you have a low-limit credit card or a pre-paid credit card, assign it for your online shopping to limit the exposure to your financial institutions. Using a credit card also comes with different protections against fraud than if you use your debit card – which could give a fraudster access to your banking information.
  • HTTPS doesn’t always mean it is a “legit” site – even scam sites can get a secure designation.

If you are checking your accounts after your shopping spree and find some irregularities, you can call the advisors at the ITRC (888.400.5530) for direction on how to resolve the issues that have popped up.” 

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