BLACK Friday is fast approaching once again, when many stores slash their prices for one day only at the start of the festive shopping season.

But while shopkeepers and C-suite executives might be rubbing their hands at the huge profits to be made, so will hackers and scammers, salivating at the thought of the online unsavvy breaking out their credit cards.

But there are some common sense precautions that can be taken to avoid or minimise the risks posed by the unscrupulous, as offered by the National Police.

While internet shopping is very safe these days – with $6.3 trillion in online sales forecast for 2023 – there are danger points in the process which scammers can hijack.

One of the most common scams is to send customers to a fake website that looks like the real thing, also known as ‘phishing’.

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There are many common sense precautions that can be taken to avoid falling into the traps laid by unscrupulous online scam artists

Then, when the unwitting victim enters their credit card details into the online form, they are not sending them to a reputable business, but in fact they are sending them straight into the hands of the criminals.

Other tricks include identity theft, the mass sending of unrealistic offers – too good to be true – or hitting customers with fraudulent charges, among many more.

  • Do not use a public Wi-Fi network to make the transaction. Security is often weaker on these networks, and cybercriminals can penetrate it and harvest your details.
  • Make sure your computer (or mobile phone) is uptodate with the latest anti-virus software, as viruses and malware can also open backdoors into your systems. 
  • Only enter your bank card details into trusted websites, and avoid clicking on links you receive via email or text messages – always type in the name of the website yourself.
  • Be very wary of incredible-looking bargains – always check the reviews of other users to see their experience.
  • Make sure the website you are buying from has the lock symbol to the left of the address in the search bar. This means it has HTTPS protocols.
  • The police recommend making sure that you get charged the right amount – double check it on your bank balance statement.
  • Finally, they recommend using two-factor authentication to make the purchase if you can, so that you bank asks for your personal approval or the website sends a pin code to your phone.

It is thought about one in ten of us fall victim to online crime each year, but if you follow the guidelines above when splurging online this Friday, you will almost certainly not be one of them.

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