You’re probably familiar with Black Friday. A few days later it’s Cyber Monday – an equally massive sales event for great tech deals. If you’re eager for bargains, remember this: it’s also a great opportunity for scammers and cybercriminals. Here are ten ways to stay safe and avoid being conned on Cyber Monday.
The con artists know that many of us will be ordering online round this time. That means you’ll be getting a variety of notifications, like email order confirmations and shipping information. Scammers send fake emails purporting to be from sites like PayPal or Amazon, but with links loaded with malicious code. They get you to engage by saying there’s an order or payment problem and asking for further information. So be extremely wary of messages with links or attachments, even if they seem to come from reputable vendors.
Shop at home using a secure private network. Wi-Fi hotspots make it easier for scammers to target online shoppers. To make sure your financial details, address and other sensitive data is safe, just avoid using sending it by unsecured public Wi-Fi.
A trick that’s becoming more common is the use of pop-up ads with fake coupons. They can even appear on websites of legitimate retailers. A pop-up blocker or good security software should block malicious advertising.
When paying for goods online, check the address bar in your browser. There should be a padlock icon there. This tells you that the site is safe for payment and your card information will be sent via a connection that is secure and encrypted. If there’s no padlock icon, consider shopping elsewhere.
Credit cards have better built-in protections than debit cards and can protect you more if cybercriminals try to hijack your payment or hack the database of the vendor.
We’ve all got used to registering for accounts on websites and, if you need to reset access details, answering questions with information that only you know. Examples are ‘your favorite color’ or ‘your pet’s name’. If you’re asked to give more privileged information, like your date of birth or your Social Security number, be suspicious. You could be in a scammer’s sights.
In the US QR code haven’t really taken off, but they are out there, and are something scammers target. One trick is to place fake QR code stickers over genuine ones, with the fake sticker taking shoppers to fake websites controlled by crooks.
Facebook is notorious for scams like free giveaways and other tricks to get you to click through to dangerous websites or provide private information. You might be asked to fill out a form or download from a link in order to enter a competition. There’s another scam where you need to watch a video but you have to download a particular video player to do so. Don’t do it! It’s a con.
Keep a close eye on your bank statements. When people are making a lot of purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday it’s easier for victims of cybercrime to miss the signs of illicit activity on their account. If you’re unlucky enough to fall victim to online crime then the sooner you’re aware of it the easier it is to limit the damage and stop further illicit activity.
Good computer security can help you fend off cyberattacks and scams before they happen. If you don’t have any, get some, if it’s old, consider upgrading and always make sure you keep it up-to-date. Also make sure you have a good backup system and protect your accounts with strong passwords.
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