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Mon, June 17

Wiederaenders: Christmastime shopping does not have to be difficult

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Black Friday is one of those “events” that comes and goes in my family.

The “great deal” is the draw, not the pushing, elbowing-crowd experience; no great deal, we don’t go. And, even if the deal seems fantastic, we sometimes save our money rather than fight the shopping masses.

Shopping at Christmastime doesn’t have to be an arduous task. So, today, I offer a simple message for retailers and some tips for what many people also partake in: Cyber Monday.

First up is the idea of retail bliss — our local brick-and-mortar stores want us to visit them this shopping season. To get us there, they offer great prices and also should deliver awesome service, regardless of the season.

What gets me beyond the lines and bump-and-spend mentality is a retailer that shows great character. For instance, if they have a policy, such as “no holds” (instead it is first come, first served), do not break your rules for someone you know or a friend. A member of the public can easily find out.

The result is a breakdown of trust. Recently that happened to me. I say I may miss out on a deal because I did not get there in time, but don’t lie to me. I’d rather stay home and work on my tractor.

Conversely, when the visit is fun and pleasant I can overlook the time I spend waiting at checkout; I can even forget the rudeness of fellow shoppers who go out with a “gold rush,” care-not-for-others attitude.

For those who do opt to stay home — or spend money online in addition to visiting local businesses — remember this:

• When shopping online, the shopper should make sure to use only legitimate websites and watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words.

• Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.

• Ensure your device is up to date — A recent survey from the National Cyber Security Association shows that more than half of respondents (51 percent) admit to delaying computer updates. When you receive an update notification from your device manufacturer or operating system vendor, make sure to verify the source and apply the update. Updating reduces risk of infection from vulnerabilities, giving you peace of mind and enhanced computing experiences.

• Avoid public Wi-Fi — It may be tempting to shop online at your local café while sipping a latte, but keep in mind, Wi-Fi networks use “public” airwaves. Hackers can easily intercept what you’re looking at on the web and steal valuable information, such as your name, password and credit card information. It’s best not to shop online or log in to any website while you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.

• Lock your device and create strong passwords — In order to prevent identity theft, make sure to always lock your device and create strong passwords that can’t be easily guessed. Using a complex set of lowercase and uppercase numbers, letters, and symbols are recommended.

Don’t use personal information, such as birthdates; have separate passwords for every account; and do NOT use simple 1-2-3-4-5-6 passwords (yes, my friends, you know who you are!).

• Finally, don’t click on emails or links to “deals” that seem too good to be true! If the URL looks unfamiliar or suspicious, don’t click!

In the end, please work from two things: “shop local” whenever possible — we have many wonderful small, hometown businesses here; and always remember the reason for this season and act accordingly: It is Christmastime, folks.

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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