Luke Jensen October 31, 2023 - 7 min read

How to stay cyber-safe in the Black Friday sales

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are a great way to grab a bargain and get your Christmas shopping sorted early. But they are also a major target for scammers and cyber criminals who bank on shoppers letting down their guard in the rush.

Here’s how you can stay safe and secure while you shop the online sales.

1. Avoid public Wi-Fi

Sharing personal information, including online shopping data, over public Wi-Fi can be very risky. Often these connections have lower levels of security and data protection, making it easier for hackers to steal your information. Even if it’s a known Wi-Fi network, scammers can set up portable hotspots with the same ID – and your phone can’t tell the difference. If you love shopping on the go and don’t want to use your data, you can buy privacy software that prevents data being transmitted between your device and the Wi-Fi router. Otherwise it’s best to shop online from home with the safety of your own Wi-Fi network.

2. Use credit cards, not debit cards

Credit cards provide an extra layer of protection when shopping online, with many providers obliged to refund money if you’re a victim of fraud. Platforms such as Google, Apple Pay or PayPal are also good options to help keep your bank details safe.

3. Check you’re using a secure website

When you use a retailer’s website, make sure the URL begins with ‘https’. This means that the website has a valid ‘Secure Sockets Layer’ (SSL) certificate and that information you provide is encrypted. This makes it more difficult for hackers to interfere with or steal the information you’re communicating via that website. You can also look for a little padlock symbol to the left of the URL to check whether the site has a SSL certificate.

4. Be wary of delivery messages

Scammers don’t give up once you’ve securely placed an order! You may already be aware of text messages regarding late or missed deliveries from what appears to be Australia Post or other delivery services. While scammers have no idea what you may have ordered, they prey on the fact that people often make many purchases during Black Friday sales, and therefore may not specifically remember which company will be delivering what, or when. They just know that you might be expecting deliveries and try their luck. Avoid clicking on ‘missed delivery’ links, particularly in text messages from unknown numbers, and use the legitimate tracking link you received when you made your purchase to check your order delivery status.

5. Be extra vigilant with email deals

Before you open any email promising the deal of the year, make sure you can identify the sender and check that the email address looks legitimate. Sometimes the sender’s email address can just slightly differ, for example, ‘.net’ instead of ‘.com’. And once you open the email, if you’re still not sure that the email is from the retailer you know and love, cross-check the email deal with the retailer’s website – you should be able to find a similar deal there. Also, make sure any links in the email take you to the retailer’s legitimate website. If the website is fake, the scammers will use a phishing page to ask you to sign in to your account – and in the process, steal usernames, passwords and any other sensitive information associated with the account. If you have any doubts, visit the retailer’s website directly rather than clicking on links provided in emails.

6. A reminder about passwords

Make sure you are using strong, unique passwords for your online accounts. Using simple passwords or re-using passwords makes it easier for hackers to gain access to your personal information. Use passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, and use multi-factor authentication wherever possible. Yes it might be annoying to have to enter a security code every time, but keeping your data safe makes it worthwhile.

7. Check your account statements

Once the shopping is done and dusted, make sure you check your account statements. If you see any unknown transactions, make sure you report it to your bank or credit card provider immediately.

And finally, a cliche or two to finish! It might help to remember during the shopping frenzy that, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if you’re not sure, it might be better to be safe than sorry!

Should you have any questions on this topic, please feel free to contact us and we will happily assist you.