A Christmas swindle? How to Shop Safely Online on Black Friday
If something appears to be too good to be true, it most likely is. Keep that maxim in mind as you consider all of the shopping deals that appear in the run-up to and on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which fall this year on November 26 and 29, respectively.
With the current supply chain disruption, a new phenomenon for 2021, some popular items may be in short supply, so be wary of online offers with rock-bottom prices on difficult-to-find items – the seller may not be a genuine supplier, and the item may not be the genuine article.
|Black Friday security tips|
Issues and risks to look out for on Black Friday
What are the things to focus on when buying on Black Friday?
Here are four things to keep an eye out for and four things you can do to improve the security of your shopping experience:
To begin with, you should be on the lookout for phishing emails at all times (they are the most common method of attempting to commit fraud), but expect an increase in the lead up to Black Friday. Be wary of tempting messages from ostensibly official-looking sources that try to persuade you to visit fake websites or click on links promising special or limited-time offers.
In some cases, scammers will send you confirmation emails for items you did not order. The email may contain a risky link to cancel or update the order. Don't give in to the temptation to click on the link.
If you accidentally click on a phishing link, take immediate action. If you provided login information, change your username and password right away. Make a one-of-a-kind, difficult-to-crack password out of three or four random words. To check for malware, update your software and run a security scan on your devices. Finally, notify the NCSC and/or Action Fraud of the scam (in the UK, or equivalent bodies in your jurisdiction).
2. dubious websites
You might not fall for a phishing email, but how do you know if the site that appears in your search results is legitimate? Black Friday online scams can sometimes begin with a shady website. Fraudsters set up fake websites with non-existent products in order to collect payments for goods that they will never send. They may even set up a "call centre" and provide "excuses" for a while, so that by the time you realise you've been duped, your money is long gone.
A website that lacks a closed padlock symbol on the left side of the URL should be avoided. Similarly, a URL that begins with HTTP rather than HTTPS is more likely to be a fraud front. Legitimate retail sites will be outfitted with adequate security. At first glance or on a mobile phone, look for one or two letters changed in the URL so that it is difficult to identify the website address as a fake at first glance.
Bookmark key shopping sites to ensure you are visiting the correct site, and never visit a retailer by clicking a link in an email, social media offer, or advertisement. Stick to well-known retailers. If you see a deal listed by a company or seller you're not familiar with, do some research first, such as by visiting a website like Trustpilot.
If you are duped, immediately change your username and password for the legitimate shopping site. As a precaution, if you have saved your credit card information on the real site, you should delete it. If you used a credit card to make a purchase on the shady website, notify your card issuer immediately and report the fraud.
3. Access to public Wi-Fi
Don't rely on untrusted public Wi-Fi or use public Wi-Fi hotspots (such as unsecured ones in coffee shops, for example). Fraudsters can set up rogue Wi-Fi base stations for very little money and capture any unencrypted data, such as credit or debit card information. Also, be cautious about reading out card numbers and checking numbers over the phone (if you could be overheard).
If you're out shopping, you might be tempted to look up prices online. If you see an offer you want to take advantage of online, be wary of using free public Wi-Fi because you can't be sure the connection is secure. Even if you have to enter a password or log in, keep in mind that any public network can be hacked. These attacks are known as "Man-in-the-Middle" attacks, and they work by exploiting a flaw in the network's communication protocol to intercept traffic going to and from victims' devices. We recommend that you use mobile data; it may not be completely secure, but it is much more difficult to tamper with than public Wi-Fi.
4. Scams through instant messaging
Fraudsters take advantage of the fact that so many of us shop online, and the chances increase during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They send bogus delivery notifications that appear to be from Royal Mail, DPD, Hermes, FedEx, or UPS, but are actually sent from a mobile phone number rather than a company name. If you receive an email or text message about a delivery issue, do not click any links or call the number provided. If you believe it is a legitimate message, look up the company's information and contact them directly.
Another instant message scam involves the appearance of a friend sending you a WhatsApp or social media message with a link to an online sale. It's not something they normally do, but with Black Friday's deals, they might. Don't be taken in by this. These types of scams are becoming more common, and they rely on your friend's trust and the speed with which you want to act in order to get a good deal.
Scammers create a fake website that appears to be a legitimate online retailer. They then gain control of instant messaging accounts by phishing the owners or sending keylogging malware to them. When you click the link, a malware-infected file is downloaded.
How to be more secure on Black Friday (Black Friday security tips)
What are the security tips for Black Friday?
Top Black Friday Online Shopping Security Tips:
1-Passwords for security
Your email account is valuable, and you should do everything possible to protect it. It is likely to contain a treasure trove of information of interest not only to advertisers, but also to fraudsters. Using a strong, unique password that is not used on any other websites is one of the best ways to secure your email.
By securing your e-mail account with a strong password (such as three or four random words), you can protect yourself from cyber fraudsters breaking in and stealing information such as the online shopping websites you've signed up for, as well as sensitive information such as bank details, dates of birth, or personal delivery addresses.
You can also add an extra layer of security to your email account and when you log in to a retailer's website (if they offer this facility). You can prevent hackers from accessing your accounts even if they know your password by enabling 2FA (two-factor authentication), also known as "two-step verification" or "multi-factor authentication." This is accomplished by asking you to confirm your identity in a second way, usually by entering a code sent to your mobile phone. This adds an extra layer of security, as the code sent to your mobile device is required to login alongside your password.
3: Retain your vigilance
You are the best person to notice if something doesn't seem quite right. Take a moment to trust your instincts—if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. The key to remaining secure is to keep in mind that fraudulent links can be sent via any communication platform (social media, text messaging, or email). Always proceed with caution when viewing links and keep an eye out for anything that appears to be too good to be true. If your workplace provides training on how to identify phishing emails and fraudulent websites, use it. If not, follow all of the advice above to stay ahead of the fraudsters.
4-Make use of a credit card
Finally, use a credit card for online Black Friday shopping, especially if you are purchasing items that are more vulnerable to fraud, such as home improvement and DIY products, game consoles, bicycles, and clothing. If you use your credit card to purchase something and it does not arrive, is faulty, or is damaged, you have the right to seek reimbursement from your credit card company.
Credit card purchase protection is available in the United Kingdom under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you use your card to purchase goods or services such as clothing, furniture, or a computer that cost more than £100 and up to £30,000. Debit cards do not provide this protection, but they do provide less protection through chargeback for purchases under £100.
What to do if you’re a victim of Black Friday fraud?
If you are a victim of a Black Friday scam in the UK, contact your bank as soon as possible to begin the refund process. While they conduct their investigation, your bank account may be frozen to prevent further fraudulent transactions. You should also notify Action Fraud about the Black Friday scam (you can do this online anytime or by phone Monday-Friday 8am–8pm).