Black Friday Scams

Black Friday sales may have originated in the United States as a way of kick-starting their Christmas trading push the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, but the global online shopping phenomenon has ensured that Black Friday sales have quickly spread to become standard worldwide.

No doubt your social media, televisions and news outlets are full of adverts for Black Friday sales at this very moment.

Retail outlets rely on everyone wanting to grab a bargain. Unfortunately, scammers know this too and they see a host of opportunities for ripping people off that are too good to ignore.

Here are some simple measures you can implement to browse and shop safely, and to make sure you end up only with the bargains you were after and not an infected computer or lost money.

  • Passwords – don’t use the same password on every shopping website. If scammers manage to break a password on one website, the first thing they’ll do is try it out on other popular sites. Choose difficult, and unique passwords for each site.
  • Familiar websites – stick to tried and trusted retailers. The companies you’ve already had dealings with. You know their systems and how they interact with you – this will help you weed out any suspicious communications you receive.
  • Secure checkouts – all the large, well-known brands have secure checkout systems. You’ll have seen the HTTPS prefix on their websites, or the little padlock symbol? These organisations know how much security means to their customers and to their business. Stick with companies offering secure checkout facilities.
  • Personal information – only share what is strictly necessary. Beware follow-up communications requesting more personal information – it could be scammers building their profile of you. Keep the information you give out to the absolute minimum.
  • Mobile shopping – it’s safer to shop from your laptop that your mobile device. Mobiles tend to use shortened URLs and other hyperlinks, so you’re not seeing the actual full name of whatever link you’re clicking – it may be malicious. Using your laptop, you can avoid clicking on links altogether and go directly to your selected website – eliminating the danger of being misdirected to a spurious website.
  • Instincts – trust yours! Sometimes you just get a feeling something’s not right. Offer too good to be true? Advert spelling and grammar a bit odd? Link says one thing, but when you hover the mouse over it, it says something else? Walk on by – don’t click, don’t give any information, don’t download anything. Trust your instincts – thousands of years of evolution have gone into them for your protection.

With a bit of knowledge and some common sense we can all access the bargains offered in the Black Friday sales. Happy bargain-hunting!

If you want more information on protecting your online shopping experience, contact us here at The IT Agency on (02) 8317 4730