Target #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday deals, but don’t be the target!

News and information from the Advent IM team.

With Christmas approaching rapidly, it’s not unreasonable to want to grab the best deal on the market for buying the multitude of presents required for the season. It’s no surprise that over the past couple of years, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday (23rd and 26th of November, respectively) have been the ideal setting for grabbing a bargain. Unfortunately, with the event spread over two days, this can cause a state of impulse buying and delirious urgency (think back to those CCTV videos of people clambering over each other for a discounted TV…). As such, Advent IM has compiled a list of top tips to advise over this period and to ensure that you can stay self-protected whilst going about your merry shopping!

 Online:

 Be wary of incredible-sounding deals from unknown retailers. As the old saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably     is”. Cyber criminals pay close attention to best-selling, popular items to create fake websites or posts on social media offering deals far better than the market average. These deals become a sure-fire method of harvesting either your personal information, or more commonly, your credit/debit card details

 Only trust secure sites. If you decide to buy online, only trust reputable sites that use secure connections. These will be identified through either being shown with ‘HTTPS’ in the address bar (as opposed to ‘HTTP’ – the ‘S’ stands for Secure), or being shown with a locked padlock icon

 Avoid shopping using public Wi-Fi. These will often be insecure and unmanaged systems. Through the minimal protection controls in place to protect these hot-spots, these typically become easy targets for cyber criminals to snoop in on your online activity

 Be vigilant of e-mails with attached ‘receipts’ or ‘links’ to tracking your order. It is becoming more and more widespread that cyber criminals are spoofing popular trading sites to appear as authentic correspondence. These attachments/links will either be a means of infecting your device with malware to track your online activities, or to encrypt and lock you out of your personal files through what’s known as ransomware and demand a payment for their release – there is no guarantee that such infected files will be released even after payment, so make sure to back-up important files elsewhere for easy recovery

 Where possible, enable multi-step verification. Some online vendors use two-factor authentication, not only will you be required to enter a password for accessing your account, but a pin code will also be sent to your account-associated mobile phone. This fortifies your account with an additional layer of information needed for access

In Store:

  Never leave your purse, wallet, or shopping bags unattended. Even in an increasingly digital age, pickpockets are still prevalent. If you’re not careful, items can get stolen from pockets, handbags, rucksacks, and even from your shopping bags themselves, so keep a watchful eye on your belongings at all times

 Pay with cash. This is obviously not going to be possible or recommended for larger items, especially in relation to tip #6, but paying for items with notes and change prevents attempts at identity theft using your personal credit/debit card. Criminals may employ store staff to use skimming devices that scan and record your card information, which can then be sold to make counterfeit cards using your account details – ensure that when paying by card to request using the payment card machine yourself, or failing that, to insist on maintaining sight of your card throughout the duration of the payment

Bonus Tip:

Don’t buy; make! Not only does this add the personal touch of creating something with your own two hands, but it avoids the potential problems of shopping around. Additionally, this can be a fun activity to do with loved ones in the lead up to Christmas, as well as being eco-friendly when using second-hand or recyclable materials

 

Don’t let the criminals hit their target! Be smart and be vigilant!

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