How to Avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Scams
The Christmas shopping season is always a busy time for shopping, both in stores and online. And Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest shopping days of the year, marked by incredible discounts and deals. Lately, many sellers have started to offer Black Friday discounts already well in advance of the actual day, making it a season inside a season.
However, the whole Black Friday shopping season is also a prime opportunity for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. In this blog post, we will explore some common Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping scams and provide you with valuable tips on how to avoid them.
One of the most prevalent scams during the Christmas season is fake websites. Scammers create websites that mimic well-known retailers, offering enticing deals and discounts. These scam websites can be very convincing. But interacting with them gives criminals either your personal details, or your money.
While losing money is bad for obvious reasons, criminals stealing your personal details is no laughing matter either. If they get vital information, such as your name, login credentials, or credit card number, they can use them for identity theft, or sell these details to other criminals on the dark web.
How to Avoid:
- Stick to online shopping sites you know, and access them only through their official websites.
- Check the website URL (web address) for any mistakes.
- If it’s a web shop you don’t know yet check their contact information and returns policy, as legitimate shops don’t hide them.
- Search for reviews. Watch out for exclusively positive reviews from profiles that sound fake, such as Amy113 and Tim231.
While many Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are genuine, some are just too good to be true. Scammers may advertise products at unrealistically low prices to lure shoppers. But let’s face it, no-one is going to sell a new iPhone for £100. Once a payment is made, the scammer disappears. Alternatively, you’ll get something totally different than what was promised.
Another trick is to offer a discount for a very limited time. For example, the sale ends in just 10 minutes. This trick is used to make you buy fast and carelessly, so you don’t have time to validate the seller’s authenticity.
How to Avoid:
- Be skeptical of deals that seem too good to be true, and very short-lasting deals.
- Shop with well-known, reputable retailers.
- Use price-comparison websites to ensure the deal is consistent with the market price.
Many people are waiting for deliveries during the Christmas shopping season. That’s why scammers send fake delivery notifications as a text message to your phone. These scam messages usually come from the likes of Fedex, DHL or other well-known delivery companies, and they claim they have a package waiting for you. To arrange a delivery, they ask you to install their app. However, this app is malware that steals your bank credentials and eventually your money.
How to Avoid:
- Verify the tracking number through the official carrier's website.
- If you need to arrange a delivery, do it from the carrier’s web page or on the phone.
- Do not install applications outside of official app stores and have antivirus installed.
- Be cautious when providing personal information in response to unsolicited delivery notifications.
Scam emails combine many of the tricks mentioned above. They are disguised as coming from well-known brands, and direct you to scam websites with enticing offers, or delivery notifications. Another typical trick is to tell you that your payment or credit card was declined, and to change it, you just have to enter your credit card number again. Scam emails can also lure you to download malicious attachments.
How to Avoid:
- Always double-check the email sender's address. Legitimate retailers use domain names that match their brand.
- Be wary of unsolicited emails and don't click on suspicious links. Instead, visit the retailer's official website directly.
- If an email says that your payment or card was declined, go to the service in question through their website, not the link in the email.
- Don’t open suspicious attachments. If your antivirus warns you, do not skip the warning.
Scammers often create fake shopping apps designed to mimic popular retailers. These apps may ask for excessive permissions and steal personal data or engage in fraudulent transactions - official app stores on the other hand try to keep fake and malicious apps out. Fake apps are typically promoted with scam emails and text messages.
How to Avoid:
Download shopping apps only from official app stores (like Google Play and Apple App Store).
Read app reviews and check the app's permissions before installing it.
Social Media Scams
Scammers often promote fake giveaways or contests on social media platforms. These posts promise free products or gift cards in exchange for personal information or sharing the post.
How to Avoid:
Verify the legitimacy of the social media account or page before participating in any giveaway or contest. Be cautious when asked to provide personal information in exchange for freebies.
Remain vigilant throughout the year
By following the steps in this guide, you are already one step ahead. Combine your newly acquired knowledge with complete protection on all your devices like you get from TalkTalk’s SuperSafe online security, and you are well-prepared against current and upcoming threats. Because let's face it; anyone can fall victim to online criminals. These digital adversaries are remarkably adaptable and consistently refine their methods.
It's important to recognize that scammers are active all the year-round. While they may amplify their efforts during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they don't take a vacation for the rest of the year either. Whether it's Christmas or any other time of the year, remember to remain informed, stay safe, and safeguard your financial well-being. Happy shopping, and may your online journeys always remain free from scams.
TalkTalk’s SuperSafe online security, protects up to 10 devices keeping all of the family’s smartphones, tablets and computers safe. Also included within the SuperSafe app is a really helpful Password Manager which generates and securely stores unique passwords for you. It makes logging in to your online accounts easier, safer and faster as you can copy, paste or autofill them when needed.
SuperSafe online security is just £5 per month. Once you’ve selected SuperSafe in My Account, you will receive an email from F-Secure to install the app onto your devices.
You can add SuperSafe in My Account
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