This year, Black Friday falls on November 23rd. Despite the unruly crowds we see on the news each year fighting over flat-screen TVs that have had a tenner knocked off the price, for us Brits Black Friday shopping is very much an online affair.
This poses all sorts of risks to UK consumers, while providing an early Christmas of opportunities for cyber criminals.
We have curated some top tips for you to shop safely online on Black Friday.
1. Shop on websites you know
Most of us stick to websites we know for our online shopping, but if you are looking for a specific item in Google Search you may find it on an online shop that you don’t recognise.
Household names such as Amazon and Argos are as trustworthy as they come, their websites are secure, their service levels are high and you can find really good deals with them. Amazon usually enjoys the lion’s share of online shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and during the run-up to Christmas because of these qualities.
As with all profitable business days, the vendors extend them to try and increase the amount of revenue earned. Amazon recently announced 10 days of Black Friday deals.
2. Avoid non-secure checkouts
Shopping cart security is vital as it is the most vulnerable point where a cyber fraudster can attack. A secure and encrypted checkout process should be clearly visible and trigger a small padlock next to the url in your browser.
3. Keep your personal information to yourself
Don’t divulge any more personal information than is strictly necessary. Thankfully, in the post GDPR age in-depth levels of information gathering are being eradicated. If you are asked for information that is out of the ordinary when purchasing online, then stop as it could be a phishing scam. Do not click on any information links post-process and do not respond to any emails asking you for your personal and/or banking information.
4. Choose complex passwords and change them regularly
We all have multiple accounts for banks, credit cards, shops, events and others, and the natural thing to do is replicate passwords across these different platforms so it’s easier remember them. Don’t.
It is a good idea to have a different password for each and to change your passwords regularly. Thankfully most online portals prompt you into logging a complex password of 8 characters and numbers, or more to make this easier for you.
5. Look for reviews before buying
What better way to find out if a product is worth buying than a review. Most online traders will have some sort of review system in place. Look for a trusted name such as Trustpilot or Feefo as these provide genuine reviews from real customers.
6. Try not to shop on your mobile
It is so easy to surf on your phone while you’re on the tram, or train, or bus and find a bargain that you’ve missed in the shops that you ‘simply must have’. It is also so easy for opportunists to swipe your data while your making you’re purchase because you’ll most likely be using a public unsecured network. These networks are very easy to pull user information from if you’re a sophisticated cyber hacker.
7. Set up a credit card alert
You can set up alerts that notify you if you exceed a limit that you set. This can be really useful if you have a high credit limit and against aggressive scams that target high amounts of money. It can also be used to warn you if you’re spending too much.
8. Credit card or debit card for your online shopping?
Consumer champion Which? says, you are afforded a bit more protection if you use your credit card to shop online instead of using your debit card.
If you bought something online from a company which then folded before sending you the items you’d purchased you’d be able to claim back the money, from your credit card supplier under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Card Act 1974, for items between £100 and £30,000.
9. Check the terms and conditions
T & Cs are what most of us skim through because they take a long time to read and the text is usually tiny and written in jargon. However, if you really want to know if a firm is legit before you buy, then reading the terms and conditions will usually provide you with the answers you need.
10. Call customer service if you’re unsure
In today’s silent society of texting and emailing, we tend to forget the important role a customer service department offers. If in doubt, give the customer service number a call and ask them questions.
Remember that Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all other online shopping is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. If you are diligent you should be able to shop virtually worry free and pick up some bargains.