With Black Friday and Cyber Monday rapidly approaching at the end of November it’s a good idea to reacquaint with important tips to stay safe online. It may only be couple of days in the year when retailers drop prices, especially electronics, but it’s also a potential bonanza for cyber villains. They understand that because so many people are buying lots of things over a short period of time, and in often in a hurry, it’s easy to be distracted and lure victims into falling for scams.

Watch out for phishing emails

Emails are an easy way for fraudsters to steal personal information. Phishing emails can in copy a store’s sale or discount email and include a link to a web page asking for your info. It’s a fact that retailers have been hit hard by the pandemic and will likely send out even more emails about their discounts and offers. These mails can be easily spoofed. A quick and easy way to avoid falling for a phishing scam is to check the sender’s details carefully and hover over links before you click. If you’re still not sure, you can always reach out to the retailer via their website, to check that the email you received is genuine.

Attachments hide malware

Just as you should avoid clicking on email links, don’t open attachments from retailers. Retailers won’t hide deals in attachments, its where attackers hide malware. Cyber criminals aren’t only impersonating retailers, either. You could get a fake email that seems to be from a major delivery company. Instead of clicking on a tracking number listed in an email or opening up an attachment, go directly to the company’s website to check the tracking number.

Avoid pop-ups and ads

Malvertising, or malicious advertising, is also something to be aware of. Either in the form of pop-ups or adverts they can send you to sites that ask for your information. They can also infect your device with adware, spyware, ransomware and other types of malware. If a deal is legitimate, it will be on the company’s site. Pop-ups are an easy way for cybercriminals to lure victims. Also, always make sure you’re using proven antimalware security. BullGuard provides multi-layered, award-winning Internet protection that includes advanced protection such as dynamic machine learning.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi to shop

When shopping online, make sure you’re using a private Wi-Fi connection to browse the internet. Public Wi-Fi networks are notoriously insecure and could open you up to malware or hacking. Without proper network precautions, the hacker hanging out in a shopping centre could sneak into your device and pick up your payment card information as you enter it into your device. BullGuard VPN provides you with secure Wi-Fi connections so you can shop with peace of mind, knowing that your private info is safe.

Avoid free offers

Expect a blizzard of survey and gift card scams in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, such as emails offer payments or gift cards in exchange for completing surveys. However if you click through you will likely end up on a website that may look legitimate bit will ask for personal information or account details so you can be paid. But your credentials will go straight to the attackers.

Keep an eye on your accounts

Throughout this sales period keep a close eye on your bank and card accounts. Often, criminals will make small charges using bot technology to see if the charge will go through. If it does, larger purchases will be made. If you’re monitoring your accounts, you will see these ‘small payments’ which should alert you to the fact that a villain has got hold of your details. You can then contact your bank or card issuer so remedial steps can be taken.