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Monday, December 06, 2021

Black Friday sales: How to stay safe and avoid online shopping scams

Here are some tips on how one can spot an online shopping scam.

By: Tech Desk | Lucknow |
Updated: November 26, 2021 4:15:39 pm
McAfee, online shopping scam, how to avoid online scam, online scam, hackers, McAfee security, McAfee tips, how to safely shop online, 2fa, two factor authenticationBlack Friday sales: How to stay safe and avoid online shopping scams (Image Source: Pixabay)

Several retailers and e-commerce sites are running big holiday sales like Black Friday, which is the time when hackers remain most active and have their shopping scams ready. To stay clear of such scams and keep your hard-earned money safe, here are some tips on how you can spot shopping scams online.

How to spot an online shopping scam

Beware of fake emails/URLs

Beware of email addresses and URLs that look quite similar to addresses of legitimate companies and retailers. One might often see them in phishing emails offering great deals and the moment you click on them, they will lead you to scam sites that can then steal your login credentials, payment info, or even funds when you try to place an order through the fake site.

The best way to avoid this mistake is to visit the retailer’s official site and see if the deal is real. Users should be skeptical of any links they receive by email, text, or direct message. One can also use comprehensive online protection software that can help prevent your browser from loading suspicious sites and warn you of suspicious sites in your search results.

Closely inspect sites, apps

It is sometimes difficult to find out a fake site or apps, so one way to avoid counterfeit shopping apps is to go to the original source. Just go to the retailer’s website on your mobile browser and look for a link to the app from their website. Likewise, one should always stick to the legitimate app stores such as Play Store and App Store, and avoid downloading apps from any other source as both Google and Apple have a security system to scan fake or malicious apps.

“Some can sneak through before being detected though, so look for the publisher’s name in the description and ensure it is legitimate. On a fake app, the name may be close to the retailer you’re looking for, but not quite right. Other signs of a fake will include typos, poor grammar, and design that looks a bit off,” security software company McAfee explained in a recent blog post.

Be aware of the “too good to be true” offer

The holiday season is almost here, so users will likely find special limited-time period offers on SMS and other social media platforms. But, users should not blindly believe them. McAfee says one should enter the “too good to be true” offer online and if the pricing, availability, or delivery time all look too good to be true, then one should take that as a sign. This could be a scam, which has been designed to harvest your personal info and accounts. If you still can’t find anything about a product or retailer, then you should also read reviews from trusted websites to help see if the site or product is legitimate.

Beware of email attachments that pretend to be from legitimate retailers

The most common scam hackers use is introducing malware via email attachments, and during the holiday sale season, they often send malware under the guise of offering emails and shipping notifications. Users should know that retailers and shipping companies would never really send their customers things like offers, promo codes, and tracking numbers in attachments. Instead, such elements of importance (if any) will be usually called out in the body of emails.

Look for the lock icon

One should be aware of the fact that secure websites begin their address with “https,” and not with “http.” That extra “s” in the URL stands for “secure,” which means that it uses a secure protocol for transmitting sensitive info like passwords, credit card numbers, and the like over the internet. An ‘https’ URL will always be much safe than a plain ‘http’ URL.

Don’t shop using public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi in coffee shops and other public locations can expose your private surfing to prying eyes because those networks are open to all. So, users can use a trusted virtual private network (VPN) as that will encrypt their browsing, shopping, and other internet traffic. This will make it a bit difficult for the hackers to intercept your data on public Wi-Fi networks and harvest information like your passwords and credit card numbers.

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