Every year, hopeful shoppers take to their local malls on Black Friday to try and score the best discounts. Now, with the popularization of online shopping, many deal-hunters are also turning to the Internet for extra savings. However, consumers are regularly encountering serious fraud and security threats each holiday season. The cybersecurity risks of Black Friday are important to consider, especially if you plan to take advantage of seasonal savings.
Cases of fraud and identity theft tend to skyrocket during the months of November and December. Before you give away personal data in exchange for a discount at your favorite store, we have some cybersecurity recommendations. Take a look below as we cover some of the most common Black Friday and Cyber Monday security risks.
Black Friday Cybersecurity Risks
The holiday season is, traditionally, a time for celebrating family and friends. However, cybercriminals view this time of year as a prime opportunity to steal sensitive information. Luckily for scammers, only 25% of shoppers claimed to be aware of serious cybersecurity risks that occur during the holidays. This means that 75% of those who are looking for discounts this Black Friday are at risk. But what, exactly, are the risks that shoppers can experience?
Dangerous Black Friday Scams
Black Friday scams are nothing new — in fact, as long as Black Friday has existed, scammers have tried to exploit it. From card skimmers to fake charities, scammers have found a variety of ways to steal during the holiday season. However, new advancements in technology have made it easier for criminals to take advantage of vulnerable shoppers. When you go looking for deals on Black Friday, watch out for the following scams to avoid scammers and cybercriminals.
Phishing Emails and Text Messages
Scammers use phishing emails and SMS text messages to impersonate companies and trick shoppers into supplying them with personal information. This typically occurs after a transaction or as a way to advertise a false sale with an exclusive discount. Phishing messages may ask you to supply payment details to confirm or verify your purchase. If you ever see a suspicious link or message imitating a real seller, it’s likely a scam.
Public WiFi Attacks
The security of public WiFi networks is often vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. Scammers can utilize man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept traffic over public networks and monitor your activity or steal your information. It’s important to avoid making purchases on public networks, which often have major cybersecurity vulnerabilities. This is a common issue with shoppers who “price match” their potential purchases on their phones while in a store. If you find a better deal online, wait until you get on a safer network to hit “buy.”
Too Good to Be True Deals
Looking for discounts is one of the primary reasons that shoppers enjoy Black Friday. However, if you encounter a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Retailers often drop their prices significantly during the holiday season, but it’s best to avoid any discounts that seem suspicious. Scammers can set up a website to trick shoppers into giving away their personal data and payment information. If you’re unsure about the safety of a retailer or their pricing, try searching for their reviews on reputable websites.
Fake Shopping Apps
Although they exist throughout the year, counterfeit retail apps are more popular during the holiday season. These apps collect credit card information and other personal data by using the name and design of a legitimate retailer. If you believe you might be shopping on a counterfeit app, there are certain clues you can identify. Look for any spelling errors throughout the app and check for inconsistencies in the design. To be completely safe, use the Apple or Google app stores to verify that the application you are using is legitimate.
Tips for Staying Safe During Black Friday
Cybercriminals and scammers are continuously discovering more ways to trick shoppers into giving away their personal information. Protecting your data can be challenging, especially around Black Friday. If you want to keep your privacy intact and still enjoy discounts from your favorite stores, use the following tips.
- Avoid giving out personal information to retailers, either online or in-person.
- Add two-factor authentication to all of your important accounts.
- Monitor your bank statements for suspicious transactions.
- Don’t click on suspicious links in emails or text messages.
- Use a strong password on your accounts and devices.
- Never shop over public WiFi or unsecured networks.
- Always use a VPN when shopping.
Whether you’re visiting a local mall or shopping from your couch, it’s important to stay safe on Black Friday. Using a VPN is one of the best ways to ensure that your privacy is secure no matter where you shop. With a reliable VPN on your phone and computer, you can protect your data with the push of a button. Plus, having a VPN makes it easier to save money during Black Friday. If you want a VPN that will help you get the best deal and strengthen your privacy, get PrivadoVPN today.
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