November brings a flurry of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and is a fantastic time for Christmas present shopping. However, as this is when consumers turn to online shopping, it is essential to be vigilant because cybercrimes peak during the Black Friday period and extend into the festive season – and cybercriminals have intentions that are far from festive.
The surge in e-commerce activity and the significant number of online shoppers create a larger network of potential victims for cybercriminals, and this, in turn, provides them with an increased opportunity to steal money.
“Shoppers tend to be more relaxed during the festive season, making them more susceptible to overlooking suspicious online activity and the abundance of special offers and deals during this period makes scams more believable,” says Peter Olyott, the CEO of the financial services company Indwe Risk Services (Indwe).
According to a report by Interpol, online scams pose one of the most significant threats to consumers in terms of cybercrime, and they are expected to rise over Black Friday and the holiday season.
For consumers to stay safe, it is vital to know the common cybercrimes and how to avoid falling victim to them. According to Indwe, here are some common cybercrimes to be aware of:
• Fake websites – these are designed to mimic authentic brands that can be challenging to identify as scams. However, they often feature deals and sales that appear too good to be true. When unsuspecting shoppers click on these deals and provide their banking details, cybercriminals seize the opportunity to steal sensitive information.
• Phishing schemes – these involve sending emails that deceive recipients into downloading attachments, following links, or logging into accounts. With the flood of holiday-related emails during this season, it is easy for phishing emails to go undetected.
• Fake gift cards – these are a profitable method for cybercriminals to steal money. Unlike credit cards, it is nearly impossible to get a chargeback on gift card transactions. Scammers use various tactics, such as posing as legitimate companies and requesting payment in the form of a gift card, setting up fake gift card activation sites to collect personal information, and offering fake discounted gift cards on third-party websites.
Here are some cybersecurity tips to stay safe online during Black Friday and the holiday season:
• Regularly review electronic statements and debit/credit card balances.
• Use strong, unique passwords for different accounts.
• Implement two-factor authentication for important accounts, such as email, banking and social media.
“Given the increasing sophistication and escalation of cybercrime, we strongly encourage consumers to exercise caution while shopping online during the holiday season. By remaining alert for anything suspicious, you can protect yourself from falling victim to cybercrime and enjoy a happy and safe festive season,” says Olyott.