Black Friday and Cyber Monday signal the start of the shopping season for many. However, as the deals roll out, so do the scams.
Cybercriminals look to cash in this time of year by taking advantage of the holiday rush and since much of the shopping will likely be done online, consumers need to shop smart.
Here are some tips to stay safe.
Whether it’s a link in an email or on social media, always treat links with a healthy amount of suspicion. Going to the website of the shop directly is always safer. Even though you still may be tricked by typosquatters or hijacked Google results, chances of those happening are a lot slimmer than that of a malicious link.
Often times cybercriminals are located in countries where English is not their first language. Hence they often use translation software which can result in incorrect grammar or uncommon phrases. Stay away from discount-driven emails filled with spelling errors as they are sure signs of fraud.
If you’re unsure about a product or retailer, read reviews from trusted websites to help see if it’s legitimate.
Any retailer that promises too much at too low a price is suspicious. If the price is too low, consider whether the merchant came by the items legally, if you will ever receive the items you paid for, whether the items are genuine or fake, if the item will work, and if you will be able to return damaged goods. Disreputable stores may be running crazy promotions just to steal personal info, or perform other scams like running an absurdly low price offer and then claiming the item is out of stock in a classic "bait and switch" scam.
Verify if a retailer's website uses SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption by looking for a lock icon in the browser bar. Also, ensure the link includes "https" rather than just "http" at the beginning of the URL whilst browsing or purchasing. Secure websites are configured to mask the data you share and shopping only on secure sites reduces the risk that your private data will be compromised.
Stay safe and happy shopping!