Cyber Monday, since 2005, is the Monday after Black Friday. Online shoppers (and there are more than ever during this pandemic year) stand to save as digital retailers offer many of their best deals at this time.


Just as important, the next day is Giving Tuesday, when over a billion dollars are given to worthwhile causes.


Your Better Business Bureau offers advice for the many hoping to save on Cyber Monday and perhaps, give back to charitable organizations that are surely in more need than ever this year.


Holiday shopping for digital elves


Santa’s workshop is full of the tapping of keyboards this year. If you’re among the millions doing a lot of online shopping, keep these tips in mind as you go sledding through the Cyber Monday specials:


· Lookalikes – No, this is not a reference to Santa’s "helpers" in malls and stores. These lookalikes are phony websites designed by scammers to make you think they are trusted retailer sites. Lookalike sites are easy to create. Check out their web address, contact information and customer service numbers to be sure you haven’t been fooled.


· Security – Check any unfamiliar business out at bbb.org for their rating and customer reviews. Any page you are interacting with should be secure. The web address should start with HTTPS://. If the "s" is missing, don’t trust it.


· Update antivirus software – The closest thing to a vaccine for online viruses is updated software. Don’t ignore those notifications that an update is needed.


· Price-check in advance – "Checking it twice" and early is advisable. Offers of the "best price anywhere" are not always accurate. Get ahead of the game by researching the going price on items.


· Use reward and loyalty programs – This includes whatever reward your credit card may offer for its use. These can add up quickly to your benefit.


· Use your credit card online – Debit cards don’t provide the same protections as credit cards. A future dispute over a purchase is much better handled if you paid with a credit card.


· Return policies are important – Read and understand the retailer’s policy because Cyber Monday deals may be different. Get gift receipts and keep copies of all records regarding online purchases – emails, texts and messages.


· Beware of phishing Grinches – Unsolicited emails, texts, calls and letters could be a scammer Grinch trying to ruin your holiday. They may offer a "free gift," for instance, or tell of a "delivery problem." They may be trying to get your personal information and steal your identity.


Wise giving for wise men and women


Since 2012, Giving Tuesday has been a wonderfully successful movement for charities. Keep the spirit alive with these donation tips:


· Check out a charity at Give.org. That is BBB’s website for researching charitable organizations. BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance has a strict set of 20 standards it uses to evaluate charities. Watch out for groups that don’t disclose any information.


· Beware of name similarities. Know the exact name of the charity you wish to give to and watch carefully for slight variations.


· Read their website carefully. Look for their mission, programs, measurable goals and verifiable criteria of their accomplishments and finances.


· Watch out for on-the-spot requests for donations. There’s never a reason for instant giving. Responsible charities will welcome your gift in a day or two.


· Emotional appeals are suspicious. Do your research first. Don’t give in to pressure.


· Check the charity out at Charity Watch and Charity Navigator sites.


· Research their tax status. Make sure your donation is tax deductible. Go to irs.gov to check them out.


Shop wisely on Cyber Monday and give wisely on Giving Tuesday. For other questions or concerns, contact your BBB at 800-856-2417 or visit bbb.org.