Warning: scams pick up as holidays approach

How to spot Black Friday scams

This holiday shopping season, it’s your emails you should be checking twice.

As the holiday shopping season heats up, consumers begin buying gifts and donating to charities, and so scammers get busy too.

Year after year, as the technology makes it more convenient for us, it also makes it easier for scammers to be able to gain access to our personal information and steal our identity and money.

Scams accelerate during the holiday season, and it’s important to know how to spot credit card fraud, phishing emails, shipping scams and other online fraudulent attacks.

Here are some ways you can stay safe when shopping online.

Scammer's tactics

Check the website name

Are you desperate to get that ‘must-have’ coat, shoes or electrical item and you find one in stock? Ask yourself if its too good to be true.

Think: Do you recognise the website? Trust the retailer? Is the price just too tempting?

While many prices will be significantly discounted, if you see an item that looks ridiculously cheap, make sure to check you are buying from a verified website and that the retailer is recognisable.

Remember – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Look out for dodgy deals on social media

Many will have seen the posts on social media doing the rounds – for example, a Facebook page will post a picture saying it has big name brands on sale with massive discounts applied for Black Friday.

However, most, if not all, of these pages should be avoided as they are fraudulent.

Many customers have found, once they enter their card details, that the ‘seller’ will have their money and no products will be sent in return.

If you see one of these posts on social media, it is best to avoid altogether as it is unlikely to be genuine.

Be vigilant of scam emails

Fraudsters could make the most of the opportunity to email you the best Black Friday offers. However, fraudster’s websites can be identical to real ones.

Fraudsters will list products for sale that don’t exist. Take a second to think: are all the images copied from a web search? Are you being asked to make a payment outside of the auction site’s normal process?

Treat an electronic payment like you would cash – don’t send one to somebody you don’t know and trust. Always use a trusted website and stick to their recommended payment process.

Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar and check the domain name to ensure the site is secure.

The next time you visit an e-commerce store, the first security check to do is flick your eyes over to the address bar on the upper left side of the web page. Examine the URL of the page. Is it an HTTP or HTTPS?

HTTPS means any information you enter into the site will be encrypted and protected from interception or eavesdropping by malicious parties.

Avoid purchases on public Wi-Fi

Many of us do more online shopping versus traditional means, but make sure you’re protecting yourself and avoid making purchases using public Wi-Fi.

Fraudsters are able to compromise public wi-fi relatively easily, so it’s worth eating into your own data and staying safe.

Fraudsters also use messaging apps like WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, to circulate links to ‘money off’ vouchers or discounts.

Sometimes they require you to share them with 10 people before they become activated.

Black Friday is a minefield of offers, and more often than not these links are just a ploy to infect your device with malware or make you part with your personal information.

Above everything, stop and think before you click. Fraudsters thrive on stressful or rushed situations, because we’re less likely to think things through before making a payment or surrendering our information.

Always give yourself enough time to make a good decision – and don’t give a fraudster an easy ride.

With simplicity comes bigger challenges

The Internet has made it simple and seamless to visit an online retail store, browse through its goods by the dozen, add one or two products of your choice to a shopping cart, and click to buy.

It’s exciting to order stuff online as you recline comfortably on your couch, but the experience can be devastating when a fake seller steals your money and/or information.

With these tips, you can stress less as you shop online, but remember there is no way to stay 100 percent safe from scams. Fortunately, the more careful you are, the more likely you will be to spot and avoid these scams.

Take decisive action.

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About Plow Networks

Headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, Plow Networks is a Total Service Provider (TSP) with several distinct business practices that, when consumed together, offer our clients a unique, best-in-class experience. We give organizations peace of mind, valuable time back and the economies of scale that come with having one technology partner that is focused on exceeding their expectations with every engagement.


Plow Networks
(615) 224-8735

*This information is brought to you by our IAM partner, Okta. 

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