– By Lila Bais | bbmm.ie
It’s time to think safe Online Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Why? Because thousands of consumers fall for online scams this time of the year.
Cyber criminals are lurking online, making concentrated attempts to target discount-hungry shoppers. Black Friday, which falls on November 25 this year, is the day when retailers sell off stock for bargain prices. Cyber Monday follows and refers to the magnitude of deals available to online customers only.
Discounts are usually kept secret until the big day but you can expect large savings on technology and electrical products such as televisions and laptops.The spend over the cyber weekend is huge.
But hordes of criminals are lying in wait with a variety of scams designed to con shoppers caught up in the hype of the sales. According to Get Safe Online, fraudsters are most likely to make contact with their victims on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
With the prospect of thousands of deals, online shoppers may not be as careful as they normally would be.
So here are few tips for staying cyber-safe on Black Friday:
Watch out for fake websites
Fraudsters can easily create websites that look just like official retailers boasting incredible deals. However, once a payment is made, shoppers may find they receive inferior products or those that do not match the description. And that’s if you are lucky and they arrive at all!
This often occurs with mobile phones bought online: consumers have reported buying popular models online only for them not to turn up.
The quality of fake sites vary – from the very accurate to those littered with grammatical errors.
Check the URL of the website. It may look like a close copy of a genuine retailer or may contain a recognisable name, such as Nike. Look out for domain names that end in .net or .org.
Pay by credit card
Credit cards offer consumers protection if things go wrong with a purchase. If the goods don’t show up or are faulty, Consumer Rights are on your side and you can claim the money back.
When buying on eBay stick to Paypal. Bank transfers are unlikely to be refunded. Be suspicious if a website asks you to make a bank transfer instead of paying by card.
Make sure the site is secure
Never buy anything from a site that does not have ‘https’ at the start of the URL. The ‘s’ stands for secure. There should also be a green padlock to the left of the browser. Be sure the padlock is not on the page itself – this could suggest a fraudulent site.
Beware “phishy” emails
Phishing messages are extremely common. They are designed to appear from trusted organisation such as your bank or familiar retailers like Apple, Tesco and Argos and the aim is to dupe consumers into revealing personal details.
These emails may contain links which when clicked download malicious software or take users through to a spoofed website where details are requested. As Black Friday approaches be wary of emails from retailers offering deals or cash prizes. Check the email address and don’t click on any links embedded in the message.
According to Action Fraud, the cybercrime reporting service, even an “unsubscribe” link could be malicious.
Don’t trust WhatsApp messages offering cash – even if they’re from your friends
This week Action Fraud warned consumers of a new WhatsApp scam. Users have reported receiving messages offering gift cards from well know large retailers that appear to be sent from a phone contact. The link takes you through to an official looking site which requests personal details.
Action Fraud said clicking on the link would also allow the fraudsters to collect personal information from your device that could track you. Delete messages like these even if they look like they’ve come from someone you trust and install security software on your device.
False freebies on Facebook
Free iPads, flights, shopping vouchers and cheap RayBan sunglasses, all fall into the category of “if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.”
Fraudsters create attractive looking deals which they post of Facebook asking users to “like” and “share” the advert to boost it to the top of news feeds and target a wider audience. Those who click through will be asked for personal details which can be used for fraudulent purposes.
The posts may appear to be from legitimate companies – check if the Facebook account is verified with a blue tick.
Avoid shopping on public wi-fi
Internet hotspots offered by coffee shops, libraries and bars may be incredibly convenient but are worryingly vulnerable. It doesn’t take much skill for a fraudster to hack into the network and access user details. Criminals are also able to set up fake hotspots.
If you’re shopping online use your own 3G/4G network or wait until you get home.
Don’t fall for the “Click and Receive” scam
Tom Church from special offer website Latest Deals said shoppers should be especially careful of a new scam ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Be suspicious of emails that ask you to click on a link and enter your details to rearrange a delivery. It won’t tell you what the item is but over the Black Friday weekend thousands of people are likely to have ordered something online and may be tricked into handing over personal information.
Also watch out for if the email doesn’t tell you what the ordered goods are, and if in doubt, retrace your order trail and make a call to the company you’re expecting a parcel from.
When shopping on eBay stick to the rules
There are various ways that eBay protects users – those who stray outside of the guidelines will struggle to get their money back if they fall victim to a scam.
Always pay by Paypal – most items will be protected by eBay’s Money Back Guarantee. Scammers will try and get you to pay by bank transfer or a service such as Moneygram or Western Union. Do this and you forfeit your protection.
Beware of sellers contacting you directly to offer you a better deal than the listed price.
Be careful of those with little or no selling history.
If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam – act fast
If you’ve been conned call your bank immediately and ask them to try and stop the payment. The sooner you do this the more chance you have of getting your money back.
As it stands, banks will only refund customers who have been defrauded on their credit card, debit card or a transaction has been actioned without their authorisation. This applies if the customer has not been “negligent.”
Banks are not responsible for reimbursing customers who have been deceived into making payments. If action is taken swiftly and there are funds remaining in the fraudster’s account, your bank may be able to claw back it back if it requests an indemnity.