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How to protect yourself online this Black Friday

Cybercriminals will be on the lookout for online shoppers as the shopping season reaches its peak this coming Black Friday. Discount seekers on the hunt for great deals need to safeguard themselves online.
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In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses and consumers have switched to online shopping. Having worked and shopped remotely during this difficult period has made shoppers comfortable in utilising online channels. However, a business analyst at LAWtrust, Riaan de Villiers, says shifting to online shopping has led to increased cybercrime.

According to a report published by the Center for Internet Security, over 590 million people are affected by cybercrime each year. In addition, in a recent study conducted by TransUnion Financial Hardship, 41% of South African consumers reported being victims of digital fraud related to Covid-19. The findings also revealed that the number of suspected fraud cases coming from SA increased by 6.59% for the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season.

"In preparation for the Black Friday season, fraudsters will once again step up their attempts to prey on consumers searching for bargains. Shoppers should be aware of scams and secure their data while using the internet," adds de Villiers.

To stay safe during this coming Black Friday, it is first necessary to learn how scammers take advantage of online shoppers. Then, lower your chance of becoming a victim of an online scam by taking precautions.

Here are some tips you can consider to protect yourself while shopping online this Black Friday:


Watch out for fake deals


In the run-up to Black Friday, people share many special offers via email or online advertisements. Do not just click on whatever 'deal' is on offer to verify that the bargain is authentic. Instead, type in the retailer's URL into your browser's address bar to ensure that you purchase all your items from legitimate websites. Beware of suspiciously cheap items sold by "merchants." Also, be on the lookout for strange URLs. Examples of strange URLs could be:

  • Tak3alot.co.za
  • Goodeal.xyz.com
  • Protect your personal information

Ensure any business website you visit uses HTTPS web encryption before entering any personal or payment information. Your browser's URL bar will display a padlock icon if the website is encrypted, and you will be able to verify the security of your connection to the site when you click on the padlock.

Avoid clicking on suspicious links


Cybercriminals often use fraudulent links to trick users into providing private account and login information by misleading them into clicking on links in spam emails or text messages. The same goes for links on social media sites. Remember: it is always better to go directly to the retailer's website to verify any deals that you see across social media platforms.

Create unique and strong passwords


Although passwords play an important role in computer security, hackers can easily crack simple or common passwords. Ensure that you secure yourself against online identity theft by using unique and strong passwords for all your accounts. It is a good idea to get a password manager to manage passwords on your behalf.

Be extra careful when you shop online


Be alert when shopping online. Avoid giving your personal information, such as banking details, to strangers. When shopping online, be careful of where you shop; if you are looking for deals that will not leave you disappointed, you should stick to retailers and brands you know and trust.

"Cybersecurity plays a key role in almost every aspect of our daily lives. Therefore, everyone must take safety precautions online," concludes de Villiers.
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