Early Bird Holiday Shoppers Must Play It Safe

Oct 30, 2012 16:10:36Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Early Bird Holiday Shoppers Must Play It Safe

Every year, commercials and sales for hot holiday gift items start earlier and earlier. This year, you may have even seen one or two before Halloween. While this trend can be annoying to some, there are many people who choose to get their shopping out of the way in the autumn and early winter, rather than fight the crowds, chaos and markups that appear in the weeks before Christmas or Chanukah.

According to Shop.org, a branch of the National Retail Federation, 61.6 percent of online retailers will begin their holiday marketing in the days following Halloween, up from 52.9 percent a year ago. Shoppers plan on getting the ball rolling earlier, too. Around half of shoppers say the will go online to find gift items in the coming weeks, and 22.1 percent say they will definitely start this month.

"For retailers, there is no better time to shine than the holiday season, and it's evident that online retailers are already planning to go the extra mile for their customers this year," said Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell. "Consumers can expect even more of an integrated shopping experience this holiday season with companies also looking to enhance their mobile marketing efforts to capture the attention of millions of holiday shoppers who are already thinking about their shopping lists."

But if shoppers and advertisers are starting early this year, there's another group that's probably making plans for the holidays - scammers. With so many people using the internet to buy gifts, hackers are eager to exploit shoppers' online and mobile identities.

There are ways of protecting online privacy during the holiday shopping season, according to PC Magazine. The first and best way to make sure your information stays safe is to only use trusted websites. The news source warns that some sneaky sites will try to mimic big, well-known retailers like Amazon or Target by creating a similar-looking website or a web address that is a variation on the big store's name, so be on the lookout for such tricks.

A big part of internet privacy protection is knowing what kind of information you should never give away. While you'll likely need to put in your credit card's number and expiration date, you should never give your birth date or social security number to an online retailer. Try to keep the amount of information you give out online to an absolute minimum.