Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day sales are fast approaching, prompting a major bank to issue an urgent warning to shoppers to avoid scams.
Thousands of online and in-store retailers will participate in Black Friday sales around the world, with massive discounts on everything from clothing and small appliances, to supermarkets and travel.
National Australia Bank (NAB) has warned customers to remain vigilant and prepare for increased scam activity.
In 2021, there were over 20,600 reports of online shopping scams at Scamwatch, totaling a reported loss of $8 million.
This is a 9.5% increase over 2020.
Here are some tips for staying safe online on Friday.
Too good to be true
Even when prices are reduced to an incredible discount, it pays to compare prices at other retailers.
“It’s a good idea to look at other websites to compare and investigate the store that’s making the offer before making the purchase,” a NAB spokesperson said.
Is this a fake website?
If an online store’s website seems a bit dodgy, it’s a good idea to investigate further to confirm that it’s a legit store.
A few key giveaways are branding and image resolutions.
Some easy ways to do this include checking if the social media pages are genuine and checking what their refund policy is.
A surefire way to get a read on an online store is to check Google reviews.
If a site is a scam, someone has probably already written about it.
“If you can’t determine if they’re genuine, it may be best to stick with a reputable store you know of,” the NAB spokesperson said.
“This is especially true if the online store is overseas, as there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back if it turns out to be a scam.”
Beware of pop-up ads
Advertisements that appear on your screen when you shop online or use social media can be clever marketing tactics.
They can also be used to deliver malware and direct you to dubious web pages or fake sales.
NAB suggests ensuring anti-virus software is up-to-date and includes a pop-up blocker.
Suspicious emails and SMS
Buyers are warned to be on the lookout for suspicious emails and text messages.
If you receive an email or text message with a sales campaign, don’t click the link.
Criminals commonly use these methods to direct people to fake websites so they can steal personal or financial information.
Instead, search your browser for the official website and shop there.
Avoid in-store Wi-Fi
If you shop in-store, avoid using the free Wi-Fi in-store.
“Unfortunately, these connections are often insecure and are targeted by criminals to gain access to devices and data shared on this network,” the NAB spokesperson said.
If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to create a secure connection.
Also, avoid banking or shopping online while on public Wi-Fi, as this information can be exposed and misused.
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