Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here, and the deals are already rolling out. It’s the season when retailers and deal-hungry shoppers are jolly and gearing up as prices are slashed – but it’s also prime time for hackers and cybercriminals to try to take your money, make their way into your bank account, or even get their hands on your personal data and cause serious damage.
Online shopping safety is something we should all be thinking about every day of the year. But during the busiest periods, chances are higher we fall prey to tricksters. Surrounded by unbeatable SPECIAL OFFERS and 80% OFF DEALS, it’s easy to get a little footloose and careless.
But the good news is, there’s a lot you can do to stay safe. Our Fraud Team has put together some tips to help make sure that your shopping adventure doesn’t end up being way more expensive than planned...
Is it too good to be true?
Fraudsters commonly try to sell you things under market value. So if you spot the iPhone 11 for £150 (whereas it's normally retailing at around £750), it’s best to keep away. Don’t let dodgy deals cloud your judgment.
Avoid hidden subscription traps
Checking your transactions regularly is always a good idea, but it can be particularly useful over the coming days. Have you seen a recurring charge that doesn’t make sense? Then you probably got tricked into buying additional products or services that you don’t need. If you’re in doubt, or if you believe you may have fallen foul of a scam, lock your card and contact your account provider to ask for advice. You can also use a virtual card when you shop online – it has its own details, and it can be easily locked and unlocked after you pay.
Nuke your pop-up windows
Only very few pop-up windows are genuine. Often they advertise that you can easily get something valuable for free simply by registering for another ‘offer’ and maybe even by referring some of your friends. Your best bet is to change your browser settings (or try a new one) to block these.
Be careful with stores from abroad
If you’re planning on buying something special, pay extra attention when ordering from companies from outside your own country, as issues can easily arise – delivery and returns can be troublesome (or very expensive), and unfamiliar payment gateways may increase the risk of having your card details compromised.
Beware of “exclusive” deals
Are you buying from a well-known and reputable online marketplace, but then you’re suddenly contacted privately (on, say, a social media platform) about a deal that’s too good to be true? Then you should better leave that deal alone.
Don’t assume ‘https’ is always secure
When inputting sensitive and financial information to a purchasing page, a URL (or website address) starting with ‘https’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s secure. Some fraudsters have found ways to work around this. Always ensure you’re using trusted retailers and payment sites, where you know the URL is verified and secure.
Protect your most valuable asset, your data
Think twice if you’re asked for additional personal and sensitive data. There are details that are irrelevant to your purchase when you shop online, especially your ID, passport, driving licence numbers, or National Insurance number. Your identity could end up getting ‘stolen’ and used to commit unscrupulous things.
Don’t sign your life away
When was the last time you read the terms and conditions? Deals that will tie you in long-term can be more of a burden than they currently seem. You may be scammed into paying thousands for a product that costs only hundreds.
Avoid bank transfer buying
Fraudsters tend to prefer bank transfers. Instead, use trusted payment methods and systems. Professional merchants will have websites that support a variety of payment options.
Don’t be fooled into paying for fake IT support
Some scammers can give the impression that the website you’re visiting has ‘frozen’ and urge you to call a support team to fix it. During the phone call, these fakers can masquerade as major computer companies and persuade you into believing that your computer is riddled with viruses, spyware and other malware. If anyone is asking you to call to fix an IT problem, it’s likely best to ignore them.
We hope these cyber security tips will keep you ahead of the curve when you jumpstart the process of buying presents for the holiday season — or treating yourself to a bit of retail therapy. If you have any of your own tips to share, we’d love to hear them – just let us know via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.