Security

Black Friday Scams: 10 Pro Tips to Avoid Online Scams in 2018

  • Salman Ahmed
  • 19th Nov, 2018

Since massive discounts/deals/specials are just around the corner, hackers are now cashing in with Black Friday Scams. As such, the chances of getting trapped by online scammers while buying a product online is high.

Add this to limited time available for leveraging huge discounts on Black Friday, and users mostly do not even  bother checking whether a deal is real or fake. Therefore, if you do not want to get tricked into buying a phony deal, this article will give you some life-saving tips to avoid Black Friday Scams.

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Before we get started though, let us dig into the techniques cybercriminals use to trick online shoppers.

Techniques Used by Hackers to Trick Online Buyers

Phishing Attacks

An easy-peasy method for hackers and cyber thieves to trick online buyers. Phishing requires basic content and SEO knowledge to create convincing content for emails. For Black Friday, you can expect receiving quite a few phony emails that offer too-good-to-be-true deals. These emails may contain names of renowned brands like Walmart, eBay, Amazon, and Target to convince buyers it is not fake.

This makes it simpler for hackers to trap buyers since they are already set their minds to spend money on Black Friday. To avoid falling into the trap of phishing scams, avoid opening emails from unauthorized/unrecognized users. Most importantly, avoid clicking on any links that may redirect you to login pages of renowned websites mentioned above, as they may steal your login information!

Dummy Websites

Last year, one of my friends bought a security software from a dummy site of Avast. He ended up with a “FIFA 06” setup on Black Friday, rather than the premium for the anti-virus he purchased. That is how tricky some dummy websites can be. They seem quite real in appearance, since they are clones of renowned brands. However, the main objective of these websites is to scam users into buying fake deals.

This is why we at OPT usually advise users to check the authenticity of a particular website before indulging in online shopping. One good way to do this is to look for major loopholes are in the form of content and grammatical mistakes. You can also double-check by analyzing the URL. Most renowned websites will have a “.com” at the end, instead of a “.co”, “.org”, or “.net”.

Black Friday Deals Scam 2018

Fake Ads

Another method cybercriminals use for scamming users during Black Friday is displaying Fake Ads. While we usually advise users to stay away from all kinds of ads. A few naive individuals still fall victim to such phony advertisements. This is because they think they are getting a deal of a lifetime or something.

Since online users are hunting deals on Black Friday, there are high chances of clicking on these Fake Ads. A good way to avoid scams like these is to stop clicking on ads altogether. Remember that if you need access to genuine deals, the retailers’ website is your best resource. This way, at least you can be sure the website and their offer is legit.

Tips to Avoid Black Friday Scams

Avoid Black Friday Deals that are Too Good to be True

Ads like “get 60 inch TV in $50”, “latest iPhone in just $20”, “Lifetime subscription in $5” on Black Friday are 100% fraud. Think logically, how is it possible that the product is offered at a rate, which is less than its cost price. Hackers use this strategy to get your attention by offering massive fake discounts.

Since it is human nature to feel attracted to insanely discounted offers, naturally users may get fooled. The best way to avoid these luring Black Friday Scams is by verifying the language of these deals. Genuine deals offer a discounted percentage rather than the price, such as “Get 88% off on PureVPN five year subscription”.

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Use your Credit Card for Shopping Online

Never use debit cards while shopping online, as there is no transaction protection or policy if something goes wrong. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act, banks offer consumer protection on credit cards only. As such, if your credit card gets charged without your approval, you can claim the money back.

If a cyber thief steals your debit card information, ultimately it may lead to bankruptcy. Most banks will only refund the amount for scam debit purchases, if reported within 48 hours. If you want better security when shopping online, using your credit card is the only right way to go!

Avoid Coupons from Third Party Apps

Not a single online place is secure from cybercriminals. Since it is easy to run free coupon campaigns on third party apps, hackers posted millions of fake deals on it. Thanks to the lack of criteria for verifying its authenticity. Hackers will often clone coupons that offer massive discounts to lure users.

If you click on them, there is a great possibility that these hackers can access your device and steal your data. Therefore, do not accept coupons that are running on these third-party apps at all. Best way to check whether these coupons are genuine or fake, go to an official retailer site.

Shop from Verified Websites Only

The best tip to avoid Black Friday frauds is to purchase products from verified retailers only. Avoid the risk of discounted offers for the sake of 4 to 5% extra discount from third party websites. This is because there is a high chance the third-party is affiliated with cybercriminals.

Secondly, always make purchases from the domains with “HTTPS” in their URL. This is because the domains URL that start with “HTTPS” recognize as a secure website.

Keep Your Security Software Updated

From your password managers to your antivirus software, always keep them updated. Otherwise, you may end up with losing your financial data while shopping online. Therefore, in case cybercriminals send some virus that can provide access to your device, you get a warning from the anti-virus software.

On the other hand, a reliable password manager service could also help you a lot in this scenario. By creating strong and complex passwords, hackers will be left clueless!

Avoid Clicking on Links from Suspicious Emails

When 100’s of confirmation emails are hitting your email box, cyber thieves take benefit of the situation. They send you whooping Black Friday scam deals in email, especially for products you are looking for. And in this way, you cannot stop yourself to click on that spam email.

Here you need to act intelligently. Keep yourself safe from these Black Friday Scams by avoiding opening any emails from unrecognized senders.

Do Not Use Public Wi-Fi While Shopping Online

Public Wi-Fi is undoubtedly one of the best places for a hacker to steal your data. Since Public Wi-Fi in bars/restaurants/cafes are open for all, cybercriminals are always on the hunt for users data.

Therefore, it is imperative you avoid shopping online when connected to unsafe networks. If you cannot control the habit though, consider signing up for a VPN service to cloak your identity.

Be Careful about the Data You Share

During Black Friday, if you get an email that requests personal information, treat that as a scam. I recommend you to avoid sharing your data unnecessarily through emails, surveys, and apps.

When you are shopping online, the only information you need to share is your name, address, and cell number. Genuine websites never ask you your further financial information for privacy purposes.

Shop from Authentic Apps

If you are planning to shop via smartphone on this Black Friday 2018, be sure to make purchases only from verified retailers’ app. And the best way to check whether the app is an official brand or not, check their availability on Google Play Store and Apple Store.

Use a Reliable VPN Service for Security

Use reliable VPN services to avoid malicious DNS servers and anonymous Wi-Fi Hotspots. This way, you can avoid being redirected to phishing pages, if you are using an untrusted internet. Using a VPN service will help you to keep away from the eyes of dark online entities. This way, you can prevent hackers from monitoring your online activities.

Final Verdict

Black Friday Deals 2018 is only a few days away. We hope that you would find this article helpful in battling against Black Friday Scams, while getting most out of genuine discounts. In case you require any assistance or have any query, feel free to drop a comment below. Our team is at your service 24/7 to answer any confusing questions. Also, do not hesitate on sharing the article with your friends/family members!

 

Salman Ahmed's Biography
Salman Ahmed Siddiqui is a passionate writer who loves to write about online privacy, crypto economy and trending technological developments. He loves to provide effective tips and guideline related to rising cyber challenges. When he is not writing, Salman watches Manchester United play and demonstrates his love for football with his mad FIFA skills.

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