01 December, 2013

And then comes... Cyber Monday

"Hey maybe we could wear "Droid" costumes tomorrow!!!"
On the heels of Small Business Saturday comes yet another shopping gimmick... Cyber Monday marks the busiest online shopping day of the year. As a small business "brick & mortar" retailer this day is dark. I realize that it's tempting to stay home and shop in your PJ's.  But just remember that it's the strength of your local economy that most affects you and our town! 

Both short-term and long-term, shopping local comes back to you. Short-term, you get what you want and need because you build trusting relationships with people you know. Longer-term you help build a sustainable community. Improvements feed improvements. A stronger local economy feeds into an even stronger local economy. Your dollars spent locally continue to build your local economy. This local multiplier effect happens because of where the money goes after you spend it. For every dollar you spend locally, an average of 45 cents is reinvested locally. For every dollar you spend at a corporate chain owned and operated at a distance, only 15 cents is reinvested locally. Your money works harder for you and your neighbors when you spend it closer to home.

Another aspect of long-term sustainability for your local community is property values. Shopping locally boosts the value of your house. American Express OPEN found that houses in neighborhoods near successful, locally owned businesses gained 50% more in value when compared to the broader housing markets in those cities. That is real value for you and your family. (Data over 14-year period from American Express OPEN through Independent We Stand.)
While multitudes of consumers will take advantage of deep online discounts, they may be unaware cyber criminals also use the retail holiday to their advantage — and not for bargains. Attorney General Kathleen Kane is warning that Cyber Monday is a "powerful platform for scammers to steal money and identities," especially when shoppers are pressured into making hasty purchases by one-off offers and limited-time only sales.

Here are a few of Kane's tips for consumers to protect their identities - and their wallets - on  Monday. Follow these guidelines, keep calm and shop on:

Stick to shopping on trustworthy websites. Tempting deals from obscure websites might be a scam in disguise.

Protect your personal information. Read the site's privacy policy to understand how it will be used. If one isn't posted, it is a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

Use a credit card. Under federal law, charges may be disputed if an item is not received.
Confirm your online purchase is secure. On pages where you will enter a password, credit card or other personal information, look for the "s" in "https://" and in the lower-right corner for the "lock" symbol.

Understand the return policy.

Check your credit statement frequently. By the time the bill comes in the following month, a thief may have burned through your limit.

Beware of phishing (soliciting personal information through electronic communication). Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure a buyer into revealing financial information.

Protect your computer. Make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a secure firewall.

Or... Maybe just consider skipping Cyber Monday altogether, and shop small and  local! Christmas is going to be here before you know it!

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