Top ten tips to avoid getting scammed this Black Friday


Black Friday and Cyber Monday are among cybercriminals’ favorite holidays. And, unfortunately, the crooks are lurking behind every corner imaginable.

Scammers create enticing yet unrealistic deals, often impersonating well-known brands to pilfer personal data and money. Some even resort to infecting legitimate online shops in attempts to steal credit card information.

In October alone, security company Trend Micro detected 35,000 Black Friday-themed scam websites. During the shopping weekend, attacks typically surge by 3000%. Don’t expect cybercriminals to go any easier on shoppers during this period.

Before venturing online with your credit card at the ready, take heed of the following tips shared by Chester Wisniewski, the Field CTO of Applied Research at security company Sophos, to ensure you’re well-equipped in safeguarding your online privacy.

  1. Use an ad blocker: not only do ads track your every movement, they’re also a source of malicious links.
  2. Use private browsing or incognito mode: enable private browsing (Firefox) or incognito mode (Chrome) to block tracking cookies and hide your footprints online.
  3. Make your browser “privacy smart”: you can use the browser extension Privacy Badger by The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) designed to automatically make all the right choices around browsing.
  4. Avoid using one account on multiple services: while it’s tempting to use a single sign on, it’s better to create a new login if needed to stay private.
  5. Use guest login when available: if you’re creating an account on a website you know you are never going to visit again, check if it has a guest login option.
  6. Don’t save card details: e-shops will offer to store and autofill your credit card information hoping you’ll shop with them again. Never do it unless absolutely necessary.
  7. Use temporary card numbers: many institutions now offer one-time use credit card numbers that are perfect for preventing card fraud.
  8. Use credit, not debit cards: as they offer significantly more protection against fraud and it’s easier to dispute the charge.
  9. Beware of direct messages via social media/chat apps: shop only at established sites or the ones recommended to you by your friends and family.
  10. If a deal looks like it’s too-good-to-be-true, it probably is: Assume they are scams and do not click.