Smart Living | Digital Parenting

Digital Parenting | 24 Nov 2022

Black Friday online scams: How to avoid them

Don't let Black Friday become Black Fraud Day by following these safety tips from digital wellbeing agency Digital Awareness UK.

It’s that time of the year again to try and bag a Black Friday bargain ahead of the festive season. So I hate to be a scrooge just as you’re getting into the Christmas spirit, but at Digital Awareness UK we’ve been inundated with reports of Black Friday-related online scams.

According to the Office for National Statistics, online shopping scams are the most common type of scam reported. Sadly, it won’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that fraudsters will be adapting their tactics to target consumers over Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Here, we share some of our top tips to help you enjoy some scam-free shopping.

Common online shopping scams

We speak to hundreds of families about their digital lives every week and these are some of the most common Black Friday online scams they’re coming across:

  • Fake website scams – With these scams you’re usually enticed by what seems like an amazing shopping deal from a familiar brand like Tesco or John Lewis, then encouraged to click on a suspicious link to access it. When you click on the link, you are taken to a fake website and usually enticed to share your personal details. This can lead to ID theft and ‘account takeover’ fraud.
  • Fake delivery scams – Many of you will have received the classic text message from someone pretending to be the Post Office or DPD saying something along the lines of “we failed to deliver your package please click on this [suspicious] link to reschedule a redelivery”. At which point you’re taken to a dodgy website again.
  • Fake order scam If you’ve ever received an order confirmation email for something you didn’t buy, or a message saying “there’s a problem with your order” and you know you haven’t ordered anything from that company, you may have seen a fake order scam.

How to stay safe online

Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be confusing or difficult if you follow these six straightforward tips.

In almost all cases, the fraudsters behind these sorts of scams are using nasty – but highly effective – phishing techniques to try and access your personal information (like your email address or bank details) and/or your money.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve ever fallen for one of these tricks, many of us have. In fact, research shows that 3% of people who receive phishing messages go on to reply or click on the suspicious link. So it’s important to talk to friends and family members about what to do should they come across one.

How to avoid Black Friday online shopping scams

The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to protect yourself from online scams. Here are our top five tips:

  1. Check the URL (website address) – Be wary of messages that encourage you to click on a URL that looks unusual (for example if it doesn’t match the URL of the official company website). Also, look out for a green padlock and ‘https’ at the start of the URL as this usually means the connection is encrypted and can’t be intercepted by criminals.
  2. Search for deals elsewhere – If you receive a message about a fantastic deal, try looking for it using a search engine to see if you can find the promotion elsewhere. If it’s legitimate, companies are usually promoting it all over the place.
  3. Inspect the website – Watch out for websites that have poor spelling, grammatical errors, logos that don’t look quite right and don’t have an ‘about us’ or ‘contact us’ page. If you spot any of these things, the website could be fake.
  4. Avoid making bank transfer payments – I’d be extremely cautious if a company was asking me to pay for goods online though a bank transfer. Also, when things go wrong it can be difficult to get your money back.
  5. Use anti-phishing/antivirus software – If it’s up-to-date, such software can help protect you from cyber-attacks. Check out Vodafone Secure Net.

Vodafone hammers Christmas fraudsters with anti-scam safety tech

The total number of scam texts fell dramatically in December 2021, thanks to enhanced security measures including a new SMS firewall.

We hope this article makes you feel a little more informed as we head into Black Friday. If you’d like to learn more about online scams, or to need to report a scam, we’d recommend visiting Action Fraud for help and support.

Happy shopping!

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