22 Dec Survival guide to avoid cyber scams – and the fear of scams – when shopping online
Follow our safe online shopping tips to avoid the pitfalls during seasonal shopping events (such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Christmas) when the number of cyberscams increase.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and other sales events are high season for fraudsters and cyber scammers. That is why it is important that we take extreme precautions and carefully follow some simple purchase recommendations. It’s easy to avoid cyber-deceptions and cyberscams if we heed this advice!
Beware of fake websites! Choose safe and trusted e-commerce retailers
- Verify that there is sufficient information about the products and their terms of purchase. Check that the contact details are clear and that there is no doubt about the payment and shipping methods.
- Especially if you are considering making your first purchases in a virtual store that is new to you, look online for opinions from other consumers about that company. Keep in mind that there are online selling platforms that host multiple sellers, so you also need to be sure of the trustworthiness and reliability of the merchant. Don’t be fooled by exclusively positive reviews that appear on the e-commerce website itself: check on the web.
- Compare prices. If you detect excessively large differences in prices, be suspicious of these extreme bargains: it could be a case of forgery, or bait for a scam.
- Make sure you buy from secure platforms. The address of the page must change from “http” to “https” and the closed padlock icon should appear at the bottom of the browser. These are signs that your communications are encrypted.
- There are cybercriminals who clone authentic virtual stores, so make sure you are browsing the actually platform that you think you are on. Poorly written links, pixelated (grainy) images, careless item descriptions, or malfunctioning website functions are all tell-tale signs that you may be on a fake website.
Don’t get hooked! Beware of phishing!
As you know, there are cyber-phishers who are convinced that Black Friday is high season for pike (shoppers) to bite down on their cyber-deceptions! That’s why they send messages with which they try to impersonate recognisable online stores. Don’t be fooled!
- Beware of communications sent by unknown senders. The goal of cybercriminals is to steal our credit card data, bank keys, or other types of information that they can use for malicious purposes. Be wary of e-mails with attractive promotions. Cybercriminals use pop-ups and ads to spread malware or divert us to their fraudulent websites. If you are in doubt as to whether you are facing a legitimate offer or a possible deception, it is best to go directly to the e-commerce site to verify the offer. Is the product in question available for sale through its web address? Check the veracity of the offer.
- Cybercriminals take advantage of high-volume sales-and-delivery periods when many consumers are waiting for packages to be delivered. Fraudsters send fake messages notifying us of the supposed receipt of shipments. Don’t fall for it! Make sure the communication is legitimate and don’t click on suspicious links!
- Don’t let your guard down! Remaining cautious in the face of suspicious messages and effectively protecting personal data are the main weapons of self-defense against digital fraud. Take a look at our collection of recent phishing messages to easily identify the most common types of traps.
Make transactions by credit card or other secure means
When we make a transaction, we can choose various forms of payment (bank transfer, cash on delivery, credit and debit cards, virtual cards, PayPal…). Choose methods that can be disputed or reversed.
- There are payment methods that offer greater assurance than others.
Major credit card companies (Mastercard, Visa, etc.) and PayPal offer fraud protection policies, so you can more easily get a refund in the case of a scam. Money sent by bank transfer or handed over as cash on delivery (“COD”) is NOT recoverable.
Be wary of tempting offers on social media
- Cybercriminals can misuse social media platforms to tempt their potential victims with the claim of exclusive and extraordinary offers.
- Always be very careful of product ads on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Be careful too with offers that rogues can get onto TikTok, YouTube, or even Twich. Keep in mind that if we like or share ads, we may be helping to spread cyberfraud.
Monitor your bank accounts!
- During shopping season, cybercriminals trust that at least some fraudulent transactions will go unnoticed. It’s important to keep an eye on your bank accounts for strange charges made by unknown or mysterious entities.
- Check your online bank account’s last access information from time to time. If there is any access event that you do not recognize, immediately change your access credentials and notify your bank.
- If you identify fraudulent charges, immediately notify your bank and change your passwords.
- Did you know that today, most cards issued by banking entities offer integrated protection mechanisms that allow their holders to strengthen their security? Discover how to strengthen the security of your cards!