With Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the horizon, it can be an opportune time for scammers to strike. According to a report by GlobalData for VoucherCodes, an estimated £22.62bn will be spent over the two-week Black Friday period.
With the build-up to the festive period busy for many, shoppers can be easily distracted. This alongside a shortage of some of the year’s hottest gifts, provides an opportunity for online scammers to take advantage by tricking shoppers into deals that are simply too good to be true.
Whilst the risk of cyber scams and fraud is a 365-day-a-year problem, we have put together some top tips to help you brush up on your knowledge this Black Friday.
Do your research and shop wisely, avoiding any dodgy third-party resellers. Stick to retailers you know and trust, from well-known department stores, and discount retailers, to places you have shopped before. Check the “sold by” or “shipping note” fields in the product description to ensure you are purchasing from a reputable retailer.
Once you have decided what to buy and where to shop, visit the website directly. This avoids clicking on risky links that target you through ads, emails, and text messages. Another helpful trick is to make sure you are visiting a secure website. To do this, look for a padlock icon next to the browser bar at the top of the screen. You can also check the URL, which should start with HTTPS if the website is secure and not HTTP. If a website isn’t secure do not risk shopping on it.
Online scams can vary in shape and form, but it can be possible to spot them. Scams can range from emails posing as your favourite online retailer to text messages from a delivery company. There are a few tell-tale signs that can help you spot a fake. Check to see if the URL you are visiting has any spelling mistakes or if a text message asks for payment via a link. If you spot any of these, do not click the link.
Be password savvy by creating strong passwords to help avoid a hacker accessing your information. You can create a secure password by making sure they are long, with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and characters. Avoid using common phrases or personal information, such as your birthday, address, or pet name for maximum security.
The wonders of modern technology mean that you can shop and access the internet from virtually anywhere. Whilst the idea of getting your shopping done at a local coffee shop might sound lovely, it’s not always the most secure. Nothing prevents a scammer from setting up their own Wi-Fi hotspot. Ultimately, this can allow scammers to easily access your information whilst you shop online. If the network you are using is unsecured, you leave yourself vulnerable to scammers grabbing your name, address, credit card number, and any other personal information.
Be vigilant and take a few minutes to check your bank and credit accounts. A quick glance can help you spot any fraudulent transactions and it’s well worth finding the time to check your accounts regularly. If you spot any suspicious activity, be quick to report it, giving your bank the opportunity to investigate it more effectively.
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