cyber-security

Avoiding Scams On Black Friday And Cyber Monday24th Nov 2021

by Tim Sque on 24th Nov 2021

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales - Please Stay Vigilant.

The day after Thanksgiving in America would usually mark the start of the Christmas shopping season and the Santa Claus parades would bring crowds of potential shoppers to the high streets. This increase in footfall was seen as a chance for businesses to offer their best deals and so began a consumerist tradition which nowadays inevitably results in news articles of people queuing overnight for the chance to physically fight each other for cheap televisions.

Despite being a legitimate chance to scoop up a good deal, Black Friday and Cyber Monday also provide a great opportunity for scammers to make money. The scams range from a business simply claiming that a product is on offer when it is actually a higher price than usual, to criminals committing serious online fraud. Each year the figures rise and last year online crime during Black Friday and Cyber Monday defrauded UK shoppers to the tune of £2.5m.

There are two prominent things to watch out for – Bad deals and online fraud.

Bad deals

A recent investigation by consumer advice magazine Which? found that an astonishing 85% of the items they tracked had been the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday.

They have provided some great tips for not getting caught up in the hysteria, including:

  • Use a price checking website. This is a great way to check the history of a product’s pricing. Sites such as Price Runner and Price Spy will show you whether or not a deal is really any better on Black Friday.
  • Check the product across multiple websites. If one site has a certain price, always check other vendors’ sites to be sure the price is good. Often when using a major online shop such as Amazon, you can see who the seller is. If you go to the seller’s website and buy the product directly from there, this can remove the cut that Amazon takes. This can result is a good saving, but you must always be careful when buying from an unfamiliar site.
  • Look out for “Was” prices. This is a crafty technique that will deliberately mislead you into thinking that you are getting a great deal. Sellers will inflate the previous price so that a product that was £200 but is now £50 seems like an amazing offer. Checking the price history will often show that this is simply a sales tactic and you may be being tricked into feeling thrilled to pay the standard price for an item.

Online scams

Black Friday is a cyber criminal’s favourite time of year. The Police have said that crime over the period last year defrauded online shoppers in Britain of £2.5m. Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, have said that the figure is nearer £15.4m.
In 2020 the numbers rose by 61% because many bargain hunters were still avoiding the high street, with a second lockdown imposed in the run up to Christmas.

A common situation was where consumers would simply not receive goods that they had bought from unfamiliar websites, and some were then subsequently targeted by criminals using the bank details given during transactions. Fake websites that look identical to official vendors’ sites will advertise goods at a much cheaper price. Action Fraud has advised consumers to take additional checks when shopping online, as Black Friday approaches on the 26th November.

Pauline Smith, the service’s director, said “If you think you have found a bargain that is too good to be true, it probably is. Stop and think before making a purchase, as it could protect you and your money.”

Dangerous emails, WhatsApp and text messages are also something very important to look out for. You must always be very careful when clicking on a link or opening an attachment as these are the easiest ways to get a virus.

A very common scam is a fake delivery message, seeming to be from a company such as Royal Mail or DPD, which will urge you not to miss an important delivery and tells you that you must provide your details or a payment within a certain time frame. This uses the social engineering principal of urgency to trick you into a vulnerable state of mind where you might not make sound decisions.

The methods used by scammers are no different during these sales than the methods that they use all year round, so it’s a good idea to stick to safe online practices throughout the year. You can find out more about staying safe online here.

Thanks for reading.

This blog was written by Tim Sque, IT Manager at Coles Miller