10 online shopping tips to help you avoid Black Friday scams

tips to avoid black friday scams

Last year, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of online fraud in the UK.

Black Friday is now the largest online shopping event in the UK, making it a prime target for online fraudsters. If you’re not careful you can end up losing a lot of money on counterfeit goods through fake websites, identity theft and more.

We want you to stay as safe as possible so we reached out to cyber security experts to help us put together top tips to help you stay safe when shopping online this Black Friday.

1. Use a strong and unique password

When creating an online shopping account, it becomes an habit to use the same password for all of them but this makes you more vulnerable if one account is compromised.

Use unique passwords for each shop and make it a difficult by combining letters in lowercase and uppercase. Use numbers and special characters.

2. Secure your home WiFi and don’t make purchases while on public WiFi

Make sure your home WiFi is protected, consider changing the password before the Black Friday shopping period.

“Cybercriminals can snoop on unprotected WiFi networks and steal your data. Be sure to adequately secure your home network. Only make purchases on WiFi networks that you know are secure (free in-store WiFi networks don't qualify). If you must shop on the go, use your mobile data connection rather than a public network” says André Mouradian, Manager EMEA at cyber-security awareness and training company Wombat Security.

3. Have a dedicated email address for shopping

This may add a bit more admin to your life but consider having a separate email address of all your online shopping needs.

Think about everything your personal email holds, would you want to risk someone getting access to it?

4. Be careful of unsolicited emails

Be careful of suspicious emails. Hackers like to send phishing emails. These are emails designed to capture your details by sending you emails pretending to be from the brands themselves. They usually send you to a decoy website and ask you to log in or reset your password.

“Always be mindful of emails that you receive. Phishing campaigns are extremely popular around holiday seasons and aim to dupe customers into giving away personal and financial information. This will involve double checking the information on the emails before clicking the embedded links” says Dean Ferrando, Systems Engineering Manager (EMEA) at cyber security company Tripwire.

5. Use a credit card

If you do lose money it is easier to claim back from your credit card than it is to claim back from your debit card. You also have more to lose if your debit card is comprised and you have a large sum of money in the connected account.

Try to stick to just one credit card rather than multiple different ones to make your transactions easier to pinpoint.

6. Make sure the website is genuine

Check the website URL address properly.

“Often, counterfeiters will use URL addresses that are confusingly similar to those of genuine brands, but include subtle spelling mistakes or typo errors in the hope that customers unknowingly visit these type of sites” Says Chrissie Jamieson, senior director at brand protection company MarkMonitor.

7. Make sure the website is secure

When making payment make sure that the secure padlock is displayed on your browser.

This is usually a green padlock in the top left hand corner of the browser next to the website address. And secure web addresses start with https and not http.

8. Check your statements frequently

With most banks now encouraging paperless statements, it is easy to check your statements rather than leave them for long periods of time.

We are all guilty of this. However, most banks now have mobile apps making it easier than ever to keep an eye on your transactions. Be sure to check this regularly over the Black Friday shopping period. It is better to identify any issues as soon as possible.

9. Be alert on social media

Fraudsters are becoming increasingly active on social networks. Be careful of ads and posts telling you they are giving away free items that are usually very expensive.

Avoid unintentionally revealing personal details such as your date of birth, address, mothers maiden name etc, on these networks.

10. Trust your gut

Finally, trust your gut. When you walk into a store on the high street you can tell when something is genuine and when something feels off.

It is the same online, if something feels too good to be true, it usually is!

Happy safe Black Friday shopping!