How to protect yourself from Black Friday scams

Black Friday may have started as a US tradition but it’s quickly spread across the globe, to the point where many of us now expect the stores we shop at to participate in the event, held on the last Thursday in November. 2020 is no different, with many of us in lockdowns due to coronavirus online shopping will be the primary way to take advantage of these deals. 

Unfortunately, scammers also know this and will be preparing to try and trick consumers into making purchases that never arrive. 

Here are a few tips you can follow to avoid being caught out in a Black Friday scam.

  1. Check if the website is secure

One of the biggest red flags to look out for when shopping online is a website that is not secure. You can check this by looking in the browser bar to make sure you see ‘https’, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Being able to see this ‘s’ is essential, which means the site has encrypted data between a client and a server. This will protect you from eavesdropping, forging of information and tampering of data. If you don’t see the ‘s’ this Black Friday, try to find the padlock symbol, which is explained in the next step.

  1. Look for the padlock

If you don’t see ‘https’ but are able to see a padlock next to the website, this symbol also indicates a website is secure. As with the ‘s’, the padlock symbol indicates a website is encrypted so everything from your personal data to your credit card information is processed with the highest level of security. 

 In your browser, this can be seen in the website bar, as shown here:

On your mobile, or on other tablet devices, you’ll see the padlock underneath the title of the webpage instead. With the padlock present, you can feel more comfortable knowing that the website has put measures in place to look after your financial and personal details. With no ‘s’ and no padlock, it is not recommended to proceed with the transaction.

  1. Use a website transparency tool

Still unsure if the website is legitimate? Then the next step is to try and search the URL in a website transparency tool. A great one to try is Google’s Safe Browsing site status, which can be found at this link: https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search 

Using its technology Google examines billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites. Its website claims that every day, they discover thousands of new unsafe sites, many of which are legitimate websites that have been compromised. When browsing on  a day-to-day basis, if unsafe sites are detected, Google will show you a warning in your web browser. 

  1. Don’t go to a website via adverts

It may be difficult, given that Black Friday is all about deals, not to jump at the chance to grab a bargain via an advert on Google, Facebook, or Instagram. The problem here is that scammers know that for many people this will be the case. Fake websites are often set up with paid spend behind them, so that Google, or other sites, promote that content as the first thing you see and are therefore likely to click on. 

If you do see a deal that looks like it’s from a shop you love, the best thing to do is search directly for the website in your browser, go on their webpage, and see if the deal exists there. If it doesn’t, chances are the other page was fraudulent, even if it looked like the real deal. 

  1. Search for Contact details

Every ecommerce site will have a subsection on the website to contact the owners of the store. If it’s just a contact form without the likes of an email address, phone number, and other details about customer service such as their social media, you should be wary. You can also contact the store via the details provided to check if you get a response and that any deals aren’t too good to be true. 

We hope you have a happy and safe Black Friday. If you have any questions, or other technology queries, leave a comment below or tweet @techtroublesho1.

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