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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the biggest days for shopping in the whole year. According to the National Retail Federation,186mn consumers shopped on the holiday weekend in 2020.

As the boundaries between Black Friday and Cyber Monday blur, and online shopping takes dominance, it is even more critical you practice safe shopping this holiday weekend.

How to Shop Safely This Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Don’t worry; we’ve put together all you need to know to shop safely this year. Follow our tips for a stress-free holiday weekend and, if ever in doubt about your online security, our Managed IT Services are here to help.

Shop Securely

The first step towards protecting yourself this Cyber Monday is to use secure sites only. About 30 million new websites were registered between 1st-20th November 2020—just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Make sure that every website you use begins with ‘HTTPS, not ‘HTTP. The ‘S’ is essential. You might need to click on the URL in the address bar at the top to see this. Plus, look for a little lock symbol to the left. Sites that you can trust use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to protect them from hackers; it is okay to put your payment details in these.

Only Go to Those You Know

Make sure to shop with reputable sites only. Shops that you know are reliable—like all the big retail brands—are the safest option. If you want to shop at an independent, less well-known store, make sure they use SSL.

Rather than typing the store’s name into a search engine, type in their URL directly to get straight to their site. Avoid clicking on ads or links that claim to take you to this site.

Give Pop-Ups and Ads a Wide Berth

Pop-ups and digital ads may seem to have attractive deals; however, they could have fake coupons. These pop-ups might redirect you to a malicious site or do other harm. If you see an offer that looks too good to be true, click the X in the corner and close it. To learn more about computer security, reach out to our IT Outsourcing Services.

Spot Holiday Shopping Scams

According to Comparitech, more than 5,000 probable scam and phishing sites were registered in November 2020. Learning to spot these too-good-to-be-true scams will prevent you from ending up on these fraudulent sites and risking your safety.

If a deal looks particularly tempting, search whether anyone else has tried to claim it before and whether it was successful. There are many forums where other users discuss the legitimacy of ads.

Better Business Focus

Managed service providers make it easy for businesses to focus on growth drivers rather than the deployment and maintenance of their core infrastructure. With access to industry-leading software, hardware and expertise available on demand, businesses can shift their focus solely on product or service development, enhanced customer satisfaction and growth.

Never Give Extra Info

Even if you’re confident that you’re shopping with a reputable, secure website, never give extra information. If you’re ever asked for details (primarily financial) you’re hesitant to offer, the best thing is to not.

You should also watch out for sites asking for Social Security numbers or password security questions. A good way to check whether the information you’re handing over is safe is to ask, “Is this necessary for the purchase transaction?”

Plus, it is usually sensible to use PayPal or credit cards for online shopping rather than your debit card as it’s easier to claim your money back.

Watch Out for Social Media Scams

Many cybercriminals use compromised Facebook accounts to post links to great deals that don’t exist. This is especially the case in Facebook groups and those dedicated to shopping. If you’re approached through social media, the best thing to do is hold back in case of a scam.

Strong Passwords

Do you have an account with your favorite retailer? This makes it easier to shop; each time you return; they remember your details for you. However, if you’re not securing your account with strong passwords, you’re placing yourself at risk. Also, it’s sensible to decline to save your card to the retailer’s site to be on the safe side.

To create a strong password, you can use a password manager that generates them, stores them, and auto-fills when the time comes. So, don’t worry; you don’t need to remember hundreds of ten-digit passwords.

Our IT support 24/7 can also assist you in creating strong, secure passwords

Malicious QR Codes

QR codes are those small squares of pixels that take you to a website when the camera is directed at it. However, cybercriminals have started creating QR codes that link to malicious sites or phishing sites. They print the stickers and place them on top of genuine QR codes. As convenient as they are, it’s best to type in the web address yourself, so you know exactly where you’re going.

Don't Shop on Public Wi-Fi

I know it might seem handy when you’re out and about to engage in online shopping. In fact, in 2020, Black Friday took in a record $6.2 billion in online sales alone, an increase of 24% year on year. About $2 billion of those purchases were made on mobile phones. Shoppers likely used these phones in coffee shops or on the bus.

Using public Wi-Fi can be dangerous as they are often unencrypted and unsecured—and you’re left open to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. Scammers can access your name, address, bank details, and other personal information.

Check for Fraud

Lastly, before the holiday period comes to an end, check whether you have been the victim of fraud. Even if you think every transaction was secure and safe, it is always best to double-check. Look over your bank and credit account transactions and make sure nothing is amiss. If you see anything like an unauthorized transaction, contact your bank straight away.

There are Federal laws that protect consumers from scammers; however, you need to act quickly in order to benefit.

Key Takeaways

We don’t want to spoil your festive spirit and holiday fun. However, practicing safe and secure shopping by following our ten tips will make your Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday far more relaxed and stress-free. It doesn’t take much to keep yourself safe from fraud; just maintain a vigilant outlook.