Social media and the internet are riddled with enticing ‘shopping bargains’, often with price tags that seem too good to be true, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here we offer 6 tips to help you spot the fakes…
With the cost of living at an all-time high across the country, Brits are looking to cut back on expenses and secure a good deal, as they look forward to sales on Black Friday (25th November) and Cyber Monday (28th November). Increasingly, there is no place better to do so than online.
Spurred on since Covid-19, when much of life turned digital, more consumers are expected to conduct their Christmas shopping online this year with a survey by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising finding that 77% of people will do the majority of their shopping online this Christmas.
However, this growing consumer reliance on the internet for everything from weekly groceries, luxury goods, and even a new car – combined with the allure of a bargain – has the potential to lead unassuming shoppers down a dangerous path if they don’t remain vigilant and aware of the risks that naturally come with shopping online.
Often, it is an enticing bargain that becomes the perfect trap for British consumers to fall into the palm of a scammer. An online scam will often trick the victim by enticing them with an offer for a product that really is, too good to be true.
Whether it comes in the form of an email or SMS phishing, a once-in-a-lifetime-deal or a fake shopping website, cybercriminals are becoming savvier every day, leaving UK consumers out of pocket and empty handed.
UK finance figures revealed consumers have lost £1.3bn to con-artists in 2021, with consumer and retail fraud rising by 57% from pre-pandemic levels.
To help Brits have a safer online shopping experience this holiday sales season, Stephen Kho, cybersecurity expert at Avast, shares his top tips:
Only download apps from official app stores such as the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. When it comes to websites, always type the URL into the address bar so you know you are on the official page. Almost all official sites will use ‘https’ to ensure an encrypted connection between the retailer and consumer. This way, you can ensure full confidence before clicking ‘pay’. If you come across a new shop, do a quick search to see if other shoppers left reviews on its social media pages or review portals.
2. Look out for phishing scams
Be on high alert for suspicious emails and text messages that may promise an attractive deal but contain dangerous links. Never click on links inside an email or a text, as they could lead to a phishing scam. Instead, if you see something enticing in an email or text, follow the earlier advice and type the URL into a web browser. If you do happen to click on a faulty link, do not enter any information or click any further links, and exit the tab immediately.
3. Never store your payment info
After completing a purchase online, you will often be prompted to create an account and store your payment info with the seller. We strongly suggest you deny these requests, particularly during holiday shopping. You should be keeping the majority of your personal data off the internet as much as possible.
4. Have a layer of protection in place, between your credit card and potential scammers
Third-party payment services such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay can give you an extra layer of protection if you want a good first defence against a scam. These virtual payment services can also be very handy on mobile sites. However, remember to only shop from your home or cell network, never on public Wi-Fi so you can protect your sensitive information, like passwords, from being stolen.
5. Stay anonymous
When you use a VPN, you cruise the cyber highway in a rental car with tinted windows. It’s an encrypted connection that hides your IP address and keeps predators from seeing any personal data about you, which prevents them from profiling you. Your login credentials, banking details, and identity stay protected. But make sure you select your preferred country in the VPN application, so the website displays the currency you want to use.
6. Ask yourself if the deal is too good to be true
Before you hit checkout, open a new tab, and look up that same item in other stores to see if the price is similar. If it is a brand you are unfamiliar with, look up comparable products in the market to see if prices are consistent. If your item is drastically lower than the other products available, there is probably a good reason why. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.