Cyber Criminals Love Black Friday Too

While online shops from the smallest to the largest have been busy preparing for Black Friday, cybercriminals have been just as busy. Learn how to avoid to be scammed. Cybercriminals love days like Black Friday, Singles Day, or Cyber Monday. Millions rush online in a hunt for the best deals and, in their excitement, forget to be critical. Black Friday can end up being a very bad experience for some.

Fake Shops And Phishing

The techniques vary as some just make fake online shops with great offers while others try to make a copy of a well-known brand by making a site that is a complete copy where only small details reveal it is a copy.

Some go as far as to even copy the Black Friday banners. If you open both the fake and the original side by side, you will not be able to see any difference. You will have to look for incredibly small details to notice the difference.

Often they send fake e-mails that look like they were sent from the original shops or they make common spelling mistakes so that they will come up first if someone misspells the name on search engines.

No matter what the procedure is, the goal is to make people buy something and enter their credit card information so they can steal people’s credit card information. They can then sell that information to other criminals or use it themselves. The customers will often receive nothing and, if they should get something, it will typically be cheap fake products.

A Type of Crime On The Rise

Unfortunately, this type of crime is on the rise. The top reasons why are because it can be done from anywhere in the world, because it can be done behind your screen, and finally because the risk is small.

Some criminals even buy ads on Google, Facebook or other social media that links to fake online shops. So just as the consumers are buying more and more online the criminals are becoming more and more professional in their attempts to scam people.

Some research has indicated that up to one out of seven consumers have come across fake online shops, plus one out of every two consumers have received phishing emails.

Another example is that one Black Friday banner has been seen on more than 7,000 websites, which is taken as proof that the criminals turn out fake shops at a very high rate and also that it is a profitable scam for them.

How To Protect Yourself

Well, what can you do to protect yourself? Actually there are signs that can be used as a warning if the site is fake.

  1. Be critical about mails you receive up to Black Friday or any other big shopping day. If the language is filled with simple grammatical errors or if the spelling is strange, it can be sign that it is fake. If there are links in the mail, move the mouse to hover over the links. If the domain is different from the official name of the shop, there is reason to be careful.
  2. Instead of just clicking on links in emails or Google, Facebook or other social media, enter the address directly into your browser.
  3. Check if the webshop has a physical address on their website, a phone number, or any other contact information. Do a few searches online to verify that the company actually is registered where they claim to be.
  4. When you are on the company’s website, check that there is a lock symbol to the left of their address. This is a sign that the company has been verified. Particularly if the official name of the company is mentioned because that is a sign that the company has been verified by a third party. This is especially important when you are going to pay.
  5.  Never send payment information over an unencrypted connection.
  6. Oh and if something is too good to be true it usually is.

You can also do a couple of other things that will increase your digital safety in general.

  • Always use a password manager like LastPass (find it here) that will make it easy for you to use different and strong passwords on all sites, so you will be safe even if a cybercriminal gets hold on your password at one site
  • Use a VPN connection so your communication is always safe and encrypted. Some even come with a warning if a site is not considered safe. Find the best VPN providers here.

Conclusion

Just like in real life, you have to be careful when you shop online. Use the tools available to protect you.

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Has a master in Business Administration and has worked with IT for the last 30 years.
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