Black Friday 2020 Scams: How to Protect Your Online Shopping

The holiday shopping countdown is upon us. Don’t let Black Friday scams steal your joy this holiday season.
Black Friday Online Scams
In 2019, more than 123 million people shopped online during Black Friday, kicking off the holiday shopping season in a big way. That number is likely to increase this year as the novel Coronavirus makes online shopping preferable to an in-store experience. It’s estimated that online shoppers will spend $189 billion in 2020, creating a significant opportunity for cybercriminals who want to capitalize on the immediacy of the moment.  This is nothing new for bad actors who target retailers and consumers with substantial efforts to steal money and data. Bad actors are always looking for opportunities to disrupt and destroy, and the Black Friday rush is often the perfect opportunity. Here are the most prominent threats facing consumers this holiday season. 

#1 Fake Promotions & Phishing Scams

The past several years have witnessed a precipitous rise in fraud and phishing attempts around the holiday season. In 2019, the number of retail phishing URLs increased by 275%, making it one of the most prominent threats for consumers to identify and defend. Shoppers are too often lured away from legitimate websites, instead landing on spoofed websites that steal information.  This year, cybersecurity researchers have identified more than 1,000 malicious apps using holiday-related branding and more than 6,000 apps using “trademarked names and copyrighted slogans from popular retailers,” according to CNET. For instance, one phishing email promising an 80% discount on designer sunglasses sent unsuspecting shoppers to a fraudulent website that captured and stole their personal and financial data.  Fortunately, phishing scams are powerless unless consumers engage with these malicious messages. However, many shoppers are not prepared. A survey by the cybersecurity giant McAfee found that nearly 40% of shoppers don’t verify an email’s authenticity before engaging. 
  • Examine incoming communications carefully. 
  • Ensure that links take them to anticipated websites.
  • Exercise discretion when engaging with online content. 

Ultimately, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

#2 Amazon Black Friday Scams

As one of the most prominent online retails, Amazon is frequently a target for cybercriminals. Amazon scams are especially problematic. The customers of this online retailer are already being targeted by bad actors
who stole more than £400,000 from customers

Often, these fraud attempts begin with an automated call or message that solicits engagement with Team Viewer, an online communication platform. So far, more than 200 people have lost money in this scam.

  • Be vigilant about identifying Amazon scams and carefully scrutinize all communications with online platforms. 

#3 Online Credit Card Skimming

Online credit card skimming

As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, cybercriminals are targeting digital checkouts to steal personal and financial data. Even before the holiday shopping season, credit card skimming instances increased by 26%, making it an undeniable threat to online shoppers. 

For example, in 2019 cybercriminals infiltrated Macy’s online store, stealing personal data and credit card information for thousands of shoppers. While detecting card skimming activity is challenging, there are steps that shoppers can take to protect their information. 

  • Decline to save payment card information on retail sites.
  • Use third-party payment platforms.
  • Enable purchase alerts on payment cards.
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels “off” about an online store, take your business elsewhere.

#4 Fraudulent Websites

While Amazon and Walmart dominate the online retail space, there is an expansive array of online marketplaces that offer everything from specialized products to discounted items. However, the
FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reports a sudden rise in online shopping scams directing shoppers to fraudulent websites. 

Specifically, the FBI’s release indicates that bad actors are intentionally shipping wrong items, relying on online money transfer services, and using content copied from legitimate websites.

  • Shop at trusted retailers. 
  • Review the Whois Public Internet Directory for the retailer’s domain registration information.
  • Question offers for significantly discounted merchandise. 
  • Research platforms before buying.

Finally, always keep in mind that bad actors are counting on consumers to maneuver the buying process too quickly. Slow down and evaluate the scene before shopping. 

In Conclusion...

These scams demonstrate that awareness is often the best weapon against cybercrime. Understanding the threat landscape and the basic protection means can help you avoid current digital threats. Of course, protecting yourself online is an ongoing process. If you’re not sure what else you can do, focus on taking care of your private information on the internet. After all, its exposure makes you vulnerable to scams and frauds not only during the holiday season but all year long. For those of you ready to start,  OneRep is currently offering  up to 70% off all plans. Have a safe and happy Black Friday y’all!

Iryna Slabodchykava

Content Strategy Manager at OneRep | LinkedIn