Il Black Friday is upon us and many consumers are preparing to purchase goods and services at super discounted prices in physical stores and, above all, in e-commerce. It is an opportunity not to be missed in view of the Christmas holidays and that It only happens once a year, the Friday after American Thanksgiving. This year the anniversary falls on November 24, 2023, but it is not certain that any brand will decide to anticipate or extend the offers by a few days.
To seize all the opportunities and Don’t arrive unprepared for Black Fridaymaking safe purchases and taking advantage of real discounts, precautions must be taken and pay attention to some details. It is good to shop from reliable sites, use secure payment methods and make sure that the discounts are effective and not just the result of a preventive increase using tools that monitor price trends.
Another element to pay close attention to are the scammerswho are waiting for nothing but this day to be able to mislead distracted consumers or who are unfamiliar with digital tools and online purchases. There are some signs to take into consideration that can be a warning sign when shopping.
Black Friday, pay attention to sellers’ sites
Even if you were to make purchases from reliable e-commerce portals, it would always be best not to trust them too much. Platforms such as Amazon and eBay are also open to private sales: it could happen that someone pretends to be a reliable seller in order to scam as many people as possible. Before completing a purchase, therefore, take advantage of all the information that the e-commerce platform makes available (reviews and feedback of users, seller data, etc.) so as to avoid falling into a simple scam.
Before proceeding with an online purchase, where you will need to enter your payment details and contact details, it is always a good idea to check the website on which you are purchasing. For greater safetyit is recommended to always make purchases on the official websites of a given brand or in the online stores of already well-known large chains.
If, however, you want to try to purchase from a new e-commerce site, it will be better to make sure of a couple of aspects to verify whether it is a reliable site or not.
First of all, you should look at the address bar: if there is a padlock or the URL starts with “https://”, the site may be safe, encrypted and protected by the SSL certificate. However, if only “http://” without the “S” appears in the address bar, the site is less protected and hackers could get in more easily.
Another action to take before purchasing is to check the web pages contain all the e-commerce information, such as valid telephone numbers, physical or email address and tax data, such as the seller’s VAT number. A site that does not include this information may not be reliable. Finally, if you want to be sure, you can look for other online comments from users about the site and their experience.
Protect yourself from phishing on Black Friday
When you receive suspicious promotional messages via email, it is always best to avoid clicking on the proposed links or downloading any attachments, because they could hide a phishing attack to steal sensitive data. To recognize this type of online scam, simply go to the official website of the company that offers the offer in the email and verify that it is a real promotion.
Alternatively, you can check the sender’s email or the web address by hovering over it without clicking: in this case the preview of the URL will open and you will be able to see if the web domain is that of the official site offering the promotion or it is a suspicious domain.
Another very common warning sign are spelling errors: if the text of the email contains errors, it is almost certainly an attempted online scam. Better then to report the message and delete it to avoid problems.
Suspicious links: also pay attention to banners and messaging apps
Once you have found the desired Black Friday offer, it is advisable to conclude the purchase only and exclusively on the platform that you are browsing. If an online seller offers to clicking on strange links (perhaps abbreviated) to find even more advantageous online offers, it is better to be wary, because you risk being redirected to portals that could put the user’s online security at risk.
If you find yourself in such a situation, leave the page immediately and report the seller to the e-commerce platform, if possible, so that their profile will be removed.
Consumers must also pay attention to advertising banners. Many adverts are reliable and come from correct sources, but others could be bait used by bad actors to lure users into scam offers.
In some cases it may happen that you receive a link from a known contact on a messaging app, such as WhatsApp, which invites a big online sale. Behind that link, however, there could be criminals who have taken control of the phone of the known contact and are ready to carry out a phishing attack, or install malware on the smartphone.
Even when the message is received from a trusted contact, it is always better before clicking on the link received in any chat ask for clarification on what type of sale it is and why he thought of us for that link. This way, you can be sure that it is good advice and continue shopping safely, or discover that you have avoided the worst.
Shopping from social media: watch out for hashtags
As shopping online becomes safer, bad actors are studying new ways to carry out their online scams, especially when there are big discounts and offers like Black Friday. In particular, the danger runs from social media where scammers share tempting messages using hashtags to attract a larger audience and tag users in posts with malicious links to make themselves more credible, only to then hide behind a fake account.
Using hashtags, the algorithms of the various social platforms favor the appearance of the post in the feed of users interested in that product, widening the potential victims of scammers.
So if you see an advert for a half-price iPhone 15 accompanied by hashtags like #specialoffer, #discount or #blackfriday, you need to be very careful because it could be an online scam.
Choose secure payments and check your account
When you are about to conclude the sale, you need to make sure that the payment platform is secure by verifying that it is also known and used by other sellers, such as PayPal. Or, that connection to the payment system happen with HTTPS protocol and that forms and are provided reimbursement method. This last precaution will allow you to get back what you have spent if the seller turns out to be an online scammer.
If you make multiple, large purchases during Black Friday, always check your credit card or bank account the list of bank transactions. Some scams involve small charges that the subject does not realize until after some time the sum withdrawn becomes substantial.
One-time password and two-factor authentication
Per protect your e-commerce account and your personal data (more generally, any type of online registration), however, it is advisable to use different passwords for each profile that makes up our digital identity (email, social networks, online banking and so on), perhaps relying on password managers. in this way, even if a hacker were to succeed in stealing one of our passwords (or in the event of a data breach) we will be sure that all the data of the remaining accounts would be safe.
As an additional security measure, it is a good idea to activate two-factor authentication on every online service that makes this feature available. Hackers will thus have another obstacle to overcome, making our profile and the data it contains even safer and more protected.
How to protect yourself: update antivirus, browser and no to public Wi-Fi
Before you even start looking for offers online, you need to make sure that the device you use is protected, be it a PC, tablet or smartphone. Users will therefore have to update the installed antivirus to the latest version, so as to take advantage of all the available functions, and perhaps also activate those that offer protection in online purchases, blocking websites deemed “unsafe” before they even load. For this reason, it is also important to update your browser, so that any antivirus protection extensions are activated and working.
In general, when using a device to browse online, it is always a good idea to update all the software installed on it.
This is because updates often contain security patches that resolve any software vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers to carry out their attacks.
It is advisable do not purchase when connected to public Wi-Fi, as it could be used by hackers and cyber criminals to extort important personal information and data. Before doing any online operation, you must update your antivirus to the latest version, your browser and all software installed on your device.
How to protect yourself: block ads and activity tracking
Online ads have also become a tool for hackers to attack users and their devices in recent years. It is sufficient to click on the wrong banner to give attackers free access to your sensitive data. To protect yourself, you can use a category of browser extensions known as “ad blockers”.
Once installed, these extensions are capable of block infected pop-ups and the banners most at risk. In some cases, extensions also help prevent tracking of your online activities, so as to stay safe during Black Friday shopping and prevent malicious people from exploiting our browsing data to lure us into…