You may not know this, but Black Friday is notorious for scams. Now I know what you’re thinking. How naive do I have to be to fall for a scam? But, would you know the difference between a fake app and a real app on the official app store? One wrong click and you’ve downloaded vicious malware that instantly steals your card details. The worst thing is, you wouldn’t even know it had happened.
Last time, we gave you a rundown of the worst Black Friday scams, this time we’re giving you essential shopping tips for a scam-free Black Friday.
1. The one letter that all secure sites have
If a site has HTTPS in its URL field or changes to green with a tiny padlock – consider yourself secured. The S in HTTPS stands for secure. But some sites will only use HTTP – beware of those.
2. Pay with Apple Pay, Android Pay or a credit card
These payment methods offer high levels of consumer protection, compared with debit cards and cash. That means you’ll have more success claiming your money back, should things go haywire.
3. Use a password manager
If most of your bargain hunting is going to be online, prepare to either sign up to a lot of accounts – or remember dozens of passwords. Remembering a shed load of credentials isn’t the most fun when there’s a last chance countdown against you. A password manager securely stores and remembers your passwords for you, so you can go from worked up to chilled out.
4. Update software
Keep your apps up to date and make sure you’re operating the latest software on your devices. Scammers always use weak spots in software to plant their mischief, but regular updates can help you stay secure by fixing dangerous bugs.
5. Use a VPN app
A VPN is a one-click security cloak. It hides your internet traffic and payment details from scammers with encryption that’s impossible to crack. Perfect for a stress-free day of online shopping.
6. Don’t click on links from unknown senders
Black Friday is notorious for email scams since shoppers are likely to receive dozens of order confirmation and delivery emails. These are referred to as phishing scams, where criminals send an email or text containing malicious links. Clicking on these links releases an irreversible infection onto your hard-drive, at which point scammers enter and steal anything they fancy.
Phishing scams are getting harder to identify since they often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know. In that case, please analyze the sender’s address for tiny spelling errors or 0’s replacing o’s, for example – this is how a scammer will register a fraudulent version of a well-known site.
7. Click the site's trust badges
Trust badges like McAffee, VeriSign, and Paypal-Verified are the most easily recognized. You can find trust badges at the bottom of most websites, which confirm a security authority has verified the site.
But you need to click on these badges. Essentially, trust badges are just images that a scammer can copy and paste onto their fake website. When a genuine trust badge is clicked on, it should take you to the site of the issuer – McAffee.com, for example. Please don’t assume a ‘mark of trust’ is always a green light – scammers will duplicate every last detail of a familiar site to catch you out.
In the rush of finding a bargain, safety may be the last thing on your mind, but please do stay extra vigilant. These precautions take just a few seconds compared to the days you’ll spend trying to reclaim your money, or worse, having your details spread all over the dark web for years to come.
IHappy shopping, guys! Stay safe out there.