With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner and Christmas rapidly approaching, there’s no doubt it's the season for lighter wallets.
But whilst riding the sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can land you a fantastic deal, they’re also a beacon that attracts scam artists, fraudsters, and crooks.
This is more prevalent than ever in the current cost-of-living crisis, with scammers preying on anxiety and fear of missing out - something we covered in our latest blog post.
That’s why we’re stepping up to help empower you to be vigilant online, here are our top tips.
Fake, quickly assembled websites are a classic tool of fraudsters and a vital tool for duping customers into handing over their details. However, they can be spotted. Here’s what to look out for.
You can avoid shady websites by keeping an eye out for these elements.
Cybercriminals like to play on our deal-hunting instincts, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and in our current economic climate. Be aware that whilst crazy deals are tempting; they might not even be real!
You can use your common sense here; if an £8,000 TV has been reduced to £1,500, something may be afoot.
It’s important to do some research on the seller. If possible, check reviews from other buyers. Look up the company on the Better Business Bureau website, and check that site’s Scam Tracker for any reports.
However, if you didn’t find anything, that may be a red flag, too. Even the most trusted online stores have bad reviews.
Again if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Researching the offer carefully lets you redeem the sweet Black Friday deals without getting fooled by fakes.
Stick with big, reputable online retailers for the safest shopping experience. Although purchasing from Amazon may aid in their efforts for world domination, at least you’re safe in the knowledge that you aren’t putting yourself at risk.
More than merely relying on a proven name might be required, however.
Watch out for typos in URLs, because your ‘legitimate’ page might be built by a scammer to closely resemble the real thing. Think “ammazon.com”, rather than “amazon.co.uk. Although many big online stores try to buy up as many common typo domains and redirect them to the real site, such as Amazno.com, Amazzon.com, or Ammazon.com, they can’t catch them all.
There has been a global push to standardise the usage of secure HTTPS connections on every website in recent years. Undoubtedly, HTTPS has been a positive for commercial websites, highlighting those with a secure connection by showing a small padlock icon in the address bar.
This lock doesn’t ensure the page isn’t a scam site, however, it simply means your connection is secured, and nobody can snoop on your transaction.
Some browsers even go so far as to label sites without the lock as "not secure" such as Chrome. There is no point in risking it if you can’t see the lock!
We're sure you've heard us talk about passwords many times before (after all, we’ve got a whole blog about how to make the perfect one) but creating a robust and unique password is the easiest way to protect yourself from cybercriminals.
If you don’t have time to read our full blog, here are some tips on creating a perfect password;
As shopping through social media rises, so do social media scams. Cybercriminals leverage the popularity of social media to lull people into confidence regarding deals and offers which don’t stand up to scrutiny.
Be careful when clicking and following links on social media, as you may be directed to fake websites that will encourage you to enter personal details. From there, it’s easy for fraudsters to steal your money or commit identity fraud.
Another major social media threat you should look out for are posts that encourage users to like or share their posts (gaining a wider audience), as these lend legitimacy to fraudsters who later use the profiles to propagate scams.