Security Tips

Black Friday Sales – Online Ad Scams

Hey.. why did you land here? because of the advert? the 50% offer? the urgency?

Did you assess the post? the source? any possible comments or reviews?

Or did you just click?

Clearly, this was just a scam simulation for your attention 🙂

Read more below on how this 3-minute read article can be an eyeopener from real social media scam campaigns.

Black Friday is with us, and rightly so, that insatiable urge to strike a good deal elevates towards humongous proportions. The levels of adrenaline are so high that sometimes we do not think, and thus, are in serious risk of getting scammed or defrauded by white collar cyber criminals, who are there waiting for opportunities to stealthily trap and suck victims out of their hard-earned money.

The methods they use are creative and intelligent. They pick up on your enthusiasm for purchasing a bargain and strike like a sharp eagle on its prey. It is very important that when shopping online one is attentive before committing to purchases.

One of the biggest threats is falling for phishing emails or messages. These are malicious messages, intelligently crafted to resemble authentic messages urging you to purchase something which you have looked for online or impersonating a reputable selling entity. Usually, the emails at a first glance look legitimate but upon closer inspection one can easily identify that the email is a scam. Clear indicators include a suspicious and unrelated sender. Although looking at the sender’s name seems to be all right, getting more details show that the true sender has no close relationship to the displayed name. Many of them have grammatical and spelling mistakes that sometimes would be difficult to understand. Another characteristic of these messages is that the salutation is usually generic (e.g. Dear Customer) and that is a tell-tale sign that the message is malicious. Last but not least, all messages have either a file attachment to download or a URL to click on. That artifact is the ultimate launch pad of the attack once it is opened or clicked.

So, it is very important that when you receive a message, examine it profoundly before proceeding to click on provided links or files. Below are some tips that you can follow when you are purchasing online:

  • Do your purchases with already known and reputable retailers you know and trust. Be careful when typing the name of the retailer into your browser bar because a tiny typo could land you on a fake site that looks just like the real one.
  • Check the sites of new sellers before purchasing from a business you have never purchased from. Look for reviews of the seller and even call the business to verify its existence.
  • Be on the alert for amazing deals. If an offer has a very low price, then probably it is a scam. Ridiculous low prices should signal red flags. The best way is to compare prices before you buy.
  • Having strong passwords to your systems is always a good protective measure and keeps cyber criminals from accessing your financial accounts.
  • Check the security of the site before you purchase anything. A secure site should start with an “https://” and not with “http://”. Secure sites encrypt all the data between you and the purchasing site making the data illegible to outside parties.
  • Always use a credit card to shop as securely as possible. Best to use credit cards that you can replenish the amount at your own will. This will enable you to put in the exact amount of cash required to purchase the product and therefore will limit the amount. If, God forbid, the card is compromised, no or a small amount is there to steal. Making use of a virtual credit card is a step further in safe online shopping where the card will only be available for a short period of time.

Staying safe online, using quick easy security tips will for sure protect you and your money, and will give you a pleasurable experience in finding and acquiring that bargain deal. Happy Black Friday!