Black Friday and Cyber Monday: How to stay safe online

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Black Friday has rapidly gone from being a novelty American event to a significant generator of sales for South African retailers and brands. PHOTO: iStock

After a long year of financial strain, South Africans are going to be more focused than ever on bargain-hunting for the best deals on offer for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Shoppers will also be looking for bargains ahead of the festive shopping season.

It is also estimated that a significant portion of Black Friday shopping this festive season is going to happen online due to the pandemic’s acceleration of the uptake in online shopping.

It is worth noting, however, that scammers and fraudsters are also gearing up to cash in on this period with the hopes of fleecing unsuspecting shoppers.

“We have to be on the lookout for dodgy deals and be smart when it comes to prices that seem ‘too good to be true’. Unfortunately, more online shopping activity means more opportunities for cybercrimes to take place,” explained Cyber security expert and GoldPhish CEO, Dan Thornton.

Thornton also shared six tips to help you avoid shopping scams this Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday season:

1. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

“Of course, Black Friday is all about discounts you can’t get at any time of the year, but don’t let that cloud your common sense. If you’re unsure about a link or a voucher, or a price just seems too low, head over to the retailer’s site directly – if the deal is legitimate, it will be there,” advised Thornton.

2. Don’t give out any of your personal information.

According to Thornton, legitimate companies will never ask for you to share your bank details or passwords via text messages.

“If they’re an online retailer, they will be aware of the prevalence of scams and will confidently provide you with proof of their legitimacy.”

3. Treat social media marketplaces with extreme caution. 

“If you’re considering purchasing a product from a social media profile page, check how long the business has been around, how many followers it has, and whether the customer reviews come from real accounts,” advised Thornton.

4. Only sign off on secure payments.

“When entering your details into a website, make sure there is a little padlock symbol in the address bar,” said Thornton.

In addition, always check that the URL from the site you’re inputting details into begins with https:// as this signals that your data will be encrypted.

5. Only use credit cards.

This is because it is a lot easier for your bank to refund you if you’ve been scammed and you used a credit card to make the transaction.

Transferring money directly from your account or using a debit card can make the refund process much more difficult.

6. If you’ve been scammed, react immediately.

Your top priority is to contact your bank.

Your credit cards must be replaced, and you must change your security details on your bank accounts. In addition, you need to be quick about resetting passwords and maximising the security settings on your online shopping accounts.

The Citizen