Black Friday 2020 could be bigger online than in-store this year, thanks to concerns about the risk of Covid-19 in crowded shops, and an increase in the number of people now comfortable with shopping online. Paul Grapendaal, Head of Managed Security Services at Nclose give you tips on playing it safe.

For first-time online shoppers and those who might forget caution in their quest for a bargain, online shopping could be more lucrative for criminals than it is for consumers this Black Friday.

Cyber criminals and old-fashioned fraudsters can take advantage of unwary shoppers in several ways: by getting access to their bank card details to steal money; by using personal information to commit fraud and theft; or simply by accepting payment for goods they don’t deliver.

To avoid disappointment, theft and fraud, here are some tips for safer online shopping this Black Friday:

  • Make sure the software on your desktop, laptop or mobile device is up to date, and that you have anti-virus software installed.
  • Don’t let the euphoria of getting a deal override your common sense – if a discount looks too good to be true, it often is.
  • Buy only from reputable retailers – particularly for big ticket items. If you don’t know the store well, read their customer reviews on social media, look up their business address and phone number and check that they really exist. Some scammers list fictitious business addresses, which can be checked by using a tool such as Google Street View.
  • Be particularly cautious about who you buy from on social media marketplaces: look at how long they have been around, and check their reviews and ratings from other customers.
  • Be aware that cyber criminals often use urgency to trick victims into clicking on dangerous links or parting with their personal and bank card information. Don’t simply click on emailed links to competitions or discount vouchers, especially if they use urgency to encourage you to do so – for example by saying certain benefits will only be available for the next 5 minutes, or only the first 50 shoppers to respond will receive the discount.
  • Cyber criminals can quite easily create websites and emails that appear to be from legitimate businesses. Don’t simply follow links from emails – rather go directly to the retailer’s web site. Be cautious about downloading email attachments claiming to be price lists or vouchers.
  • Check that the online retailer is using a secure payment gateway, and that the site URL begins with ‘https’ and not ‘http’. Use a secure credit card to pay, and if you don’t have a credit card, sign up for a secure payment option such as a virtual credit card or PayPal. Retain your confirmation email and proof of payment emails after making the transaction.
  • To be extra vigilant when downloading or opening any attachments which claim to have a list of specials or a brochure with specials, rather go to the retailers site to peruse these specials. Often these attachments have embedded malware which would circumvent traditional anti-virus etc…
  • Be wary of any of the traditional phishing scams which seek to ‘confirm your details’ to qualify for additional discount or to qualify for the deal.
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