7 tips to avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams

Hurrah, it’s nearly the festive season. Time to bag some bargains in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. But while goods might be flying off the shelves at this time of year, it’s also the perfect time for scammers to prey on those ready to spend without too much thought. Here we look at some ways to prevent being scammed in the sales this year…

1. Verify SSL Encryption on Websites for Secure Transactions

When buying things online, you’ve got to make sure the site is secure. Look for “HTTPS” in the web address, not just “HTTP.” The extra “S” means it’s using SSL encryption to keep your info safe as it travels between you and their servers. This kind of encryption is crucial for protecting personal details and payment info when you shop online.

You can also watch for a little padlock icon in the address bar – that tells you the site is secure. 

SSL encryption uses complicated cryptographic stuff to keep communications secure on the Internet. So it’s a key part of staying safe when you shop online,

2. Avoid Email Spam and Don’t Answer Spam Calls or Texts

Scams explode during busy shopping times. Don’t answer sketchy calls or texts, especially if they seem too good to be true. These could be next-level phishing scams designed to get your personal info or plant malware on your phone.

A common trick they use is “spoofing” – manipulating the sender’s number or address to look legit. They might use VoIP services to fake caller IDs, making it look like the call’s from a real store or bank. That way you’re more likely to give them your financial details without realizing it’s a scam. Other times they’ll spoof email headers so the message seems to be from someone trustworthy.

To avoid falling for these, don’t click links or download attachments unless you trust the source. If a call seems fishy, type the number into a search engine first – you can see if it’s a known scammer and read about others’ experiences. 

3. Direct URL Entry

Want to avoid phishing scams? Don’t click on links in emails or messages. Just open your browser and type the store’s address directly. That way you know you’re visiting the real site, not some fake one made to look legit.

Good rule of thumb: real businesses rarely ask for sensitive stuff by email. It’s safer to manually enter the website address yourself. Links can take you somewhere dangerous. Companies don’t need your personal details by email.

4. Dedicated Shopping Email & Virtual Card

Think about getting a separate email for online shopping – it can really help avoid phishing and keep all those promo emails under control. With a dedicated shopping address, it’s easier to track confirmations and shipping notices without clogging up your main inbox. Plus it enhances security to keep your buying emails separate. This little trick declutters and protects your primary email.

Another good option is using virtual cards to pay online. These are digital versions of your real credit or debit card that add extra security. You can set spending limits on virtual cards and lock or delete them after buying something. Super handy for reducing fraud risks.

5. Use Secure Payment Methods

Credit cards are usually the most secure way to pay for goods and services online. They have fraud protections built in, unlike wire transfers which are less safe. For extra security, think about using online payment services – PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay. These hide your credit card details from retailers and give you an extra layer of protection. Many also let you dispute charges, so they provide a nice safety net when you shop online. 

6. Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Transactions

Steer clear of public WiFi for online shopping – it’s less secure and hackers can intercept your data more easily. If you’ve got to shop online out in public, use a VPN. A virtual private network encrypts your connection, keeping your personal info and financial details confidential during the transaction.

Bottom line is public WiFi is risky for buying anything online. A VPN helps secure your data from potential interception by shady cybercrooks lurking on those networks.

7. Research for Reviews Before Buying

It’s wise to thoroughly research an online merchant before making any purchases, especially if the company is unfamiliar. Investigate the seller’s physical location, contact details, and customer feedback on independent review platforms such as Yelp, TrustPilot, and Google. 

This due diligence helps verify the business’ legitimacy and track record of reliable service and product quality. Understanding a seller’s reputation can greatly reduce the risks of scams, dissatisfaction, and other pitfalls. Conducting comprehensive research empowers shoppers to make informed decisions, increasing the likelihood of a smooth transaction and positive shopping experience when purchasing from an unknown website. 

A prudent buyer gathers ample evidence beforehand rather than jumping blindly into a purchase. With some careful sleuthing, consumers can gain peace of mind and confidence that an unfamiliar seller is trustworthy.

For more valuable insights on shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday safely, view the full report with tips by clicking here.


Chris Price