Black Friday is nearly upon us, and that means more people will be looking for great deals on the Internet than any other day of the year.
The online retail world has been gearing up for this day for months, but so have cyber criminals. Make sure you’re prepared as well by following these tips to ensure you don’t get ripped off online.
Do you research. Before parting with your payment details, are you completely sure the website you’re on is legitimate? If you’ve never heard of the website, you need to perform the necessary due diligence. Do a Google search, ask around, check for feedback on security related websites, check how long the website has been around through its public WHOIS record, see if the company behind the website has a physical address, and if you’re still not sure, ask someone who knows about this stuff! If you don’t know if a website can be trusted, don’t use it!
Stick to payment options that provide protection. If you’re unlucky enough to get ripped off this holiday season, understand that you can get a refund in full or in part if you use certain payment options. Credit offers better protection than debit. PayPal can offer protection in certain circumstances too. However there are options that you should never use. This includes sending cheques, mailing cash or wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram.
Don’t shop on public Wi-Fi. Only perform sensitive transactions like online shopping from the relative safety of your own secure Wi-Fi network. If you use public Wi-Fi, people can eavesdrop on you and steal your details. If you have no choice but to use public Wi-Fi, use a VPN or – if you’re security software has one – a secure browser.
Review those passwords. Make sure your passwords are secure and that you do not use the same password for all your online accounts. Hackers will be looking to fool you into handing over personal information like passwords, especially over the holiday season. If they grab one of your passwords, make sure that isn’t the gateway to all of your online accounts!
Consider 2FA. If your online shopping accounts are going to be particularly active this festive season, consider enabling Two-Factor-Authentication for those websites that offer this service (Amazon now offer it this year.) This gives you a layer of extra protection against criminals looking to access your Internet accounts. More information on 2FA here.
Don’t panic buy. Amazon’s pesky “lightening deals” may lure many people into making some rash shopping choices, but as a rule of thumb, you should avoid offers that try and pressure you into buying them straight away before you’ve had a chance to properly check them out.
If it looks too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true. Days like Black Friday are great for some amazing deals, but no one is handing out iPhones for a buck. Scams that peddle counterfeit goods or bait-and-switch type scams often use the “too good to be true” bait to lure in unsuspecting victims, so remember that if it looks too good to be true, then it is.
Beware suspicious social media links. If you’re seeing posts made on social media promising too good to be true offers, then they probably are, even if your friends posted them – it just means their account probably got hijacked.
Don’t click on spam email. Your inbox is likely to get flooded with awesome Black Friday deals, but unless you were expecting such an email (for example you’re willingly on a mailing list) then the chances are high that you’ll be looking at a scam, be it a malware scam, a phishing scam, a bait-and-switch scam or even sites peddling counterfeit goods.
Do a antivirus scan. One of the worse things you can do is do your Christmas shopping/Black Friday shopping with a computer infected with malware. Chances are high that this malware will be transmitting all of your most sensitive information right into the hands of a cyber-criminal. Whenever you start your shopping online, do a full system scan first from a reliable antivirus vendor. Our affiliated editor’s choice antivirus vendor BitDefender are having their annual Black Friday deal right now.
Check the URL. Always check the URL before paying, for two reasons. First, to make sure you’re on the website you think you’re on, not a copycat spoof website. Secondly to make sure that the HTTP has an S at the end (HTTPS) when you’re on the payment page. Never enter your payment details on a webpage without that S!
Read our previous article on 5 popular scams over Black Friday deals week here.