The holiday shopping season has officially arrived as some of the first Black Friday early specials are already gaining traction among buyers.
In the past, Black Friday was just a busy shopping day. Then, it became a long shopping weekend that starts on Thanksgiving evening and lasts until Cyber Monday. Lately, the buying frenzy morphed into a Black Friday season covering most of November.
Retailers are not the only ones gaining well during the shopping season. Cybercriminals also know that people tend to loosen their wallets during this time of the year and try to take advantage.
Here are a few tips to help consumers enjoy the festive season and not fall victim to the cyber scams popping up on the internet as fast as the Black Friday deals.
Our 5 safety tips
Shop from reputable retailers
Getting festive season stuff from known places decreases the chances of getting scammed while shopping online.
While some people dislike doing business with large online retailers such as Walmart and Amazon, those are relatively safe when purchasing goods.
Consumers can still get scammed, but big online retailers also have ways to reimburse the victim in case things are not as expected. And if consumers don’t go with a big retailer, it is always good to go with an online store they’ve used before.
Use credit instead of debit cards
Purchasing goods with a debit card or e-checks could be harmful as banks are not as quick to refund money in a dispute between a seller and a buyer.
Sometimes, they cannot help get a refund at all and forward victims to law enforcement, which limits chances for reimbursement even more.
However, most credit card companies and some payment processing apps have relatively effective ways to take care of their customers after disappointing online purchases.
Use common sense
Making sure that the shopping website is legit is essential. While buying something much cheaper from an unknown version of eBay may be tempting, sticking to familiar online outlets is a must. Almost anyone with basic IT knowledge can set up an online shop.
Even if the online shop is legit, the IT budget of the small business might be so low that it unknowingly could be infected with malicious code that steals card details as people order.
Shopping online is much easier if a computer device is adequately protected with antivirus software.
Often, security-enhanced firewalls and VPNs prevent people from accessing sites with questionable security risks or reported cyber incidents.
The better protection on a connected device, the more unlikely it will be for a person to end up in the wrong place.
Don’t reuse login information
Smaller online shops often don’t have advanced security protocols, and the chances they are compromised are high. In many cases, small business owners never even realize they are being hacked as cyber criminals steal all the customers’ login info and continue on their merry way.
Bad actors know that people practice poor password hygiene and reuse login info, so criminals try to exploit those reused login details.
Always use different email addresses and/or usernames and uncommon passwords that differ from the ones used for banking or payment service providers such as PayPal.
The Black Friday season could be an enjoyable one if you make sure that you shop around safely. However, it can quickly become a nightmare if you fall victim to one of the traps set by criminals.
Be smart and protect yourself well while on a shopping spree.