With rise in Black Friday/Cyber Monday online shoppers hunting for a bargain before Christmas comes increased opportunities for cybercriminals

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: With rise in Black Friday/Cyber Monday online shoppers hunting for a bargain before Christmas comes increased opportunities for cybercriminals.

Personal finance experts at Wealth of Geeks are warning shoppers who rush to grab the best deals to be extra vigilant of circulating scams that appear year on year.
 
Michael Dinich founder of Wealth of Geeks says: “Fraudsters are becoming increasingly clever as technology evolves, and during this busy shopping period, it provides the perfect opportunities to exploit the increased volume of transactions and potentially catch shoppers off guard.

“Most of the time, a cybercriminal’s motive is to steal a customer's money, or personal information such as bank details, login credentials, personal address. 
 
“Therefore, to protect themselves, shoppers should take steps to secure their online activities, such as using strong, unique passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, being cautious of phishing attempts, and regularly monitoring their financial statements for any suspicious transactions.” 
 
Below, Wealth of Geeks share 10 of the most common Black Friday/Cyber Monday scams that catch shoppers out and how to spot them ahead of the big weekend. 

1. Incorrect bank details scam

One of the most common is scammers emailing shoppers to say their billing information is incorrect, and that it needs changing immediately or the order will be void.  
 
If a retailer asks you to change your bank details with urgency and claims there is a risk of losing out on an order you have made, then you should be suspicious.  
 
Essentially, they are hoping to draw you into entering your bank details into a fake website that they have made to look real.  
 
Regardless of whether you believe your bank details are correct or not, you should contact the retailer directly with any order confirmation or information so you can receive legitimate information on your account. 

2. Hot deal scam

While Black Friday weekend is full of hot deals, certain popular items are advertised on fake websites that are generally hard to find.  
 
These items turn out to be illegitimate and it will result in you paying for a product you will never receive- and the scammer now possesses your payment details. 
 
If you come across an item like this, check the legitimacy of the product or the seller through Business Bureau who will verify. 

3. Phishing email

Phishing emails are commonly used throughout the year, and Black Friday is no different. 
 
Phishing emails are designed to trick users into disclosing sensitive confidential information.  
 
Therefore, it is important to not click on any links or pop-ups from sources that you are not familiar with.  
 
This also applies to website, including suspect URLs (ones with no ‘https.’ or locked padlock symbol on the bar) and websites with poor design. 

4. Fake tracking number scam 

Fraudsters are sending fake package tracking notifications as an email attachment or link.  
 
Scammers use these tactics to infect your device with malware or direct you to phishing sites 
 
Legitimate retailers will never send tracking numbers via an attachment.  
 
They are normally directly in your inbox or accessed via the retailer's website. Therefore, always visit the seller’s site to get accurate tracking information for your order. 

5. Instant messages 

Often, you may receive a suspicious-looking message with a link to a well-known website, urging you to click to secure a great deal. 
 
Scammers will replicate the retailer website’s URLs and layouts, which makes it extremely hard to spot whether it is fraudulent or not. 
 
However, majority of the time the link is fake, and clicking on it will invite an intrusion of malware on your device, making your personal information vulnerable. 
 
Once they have encouraged people to click, they will then send phishing messages and keylogging malware straight to your device. 
 
Before clicking on a so-called deal, go direct to the retailer's official online website to see if that same deal is there. 

6. Fake charity scam

Especially during the Christmas season there will be a surge in charity donations, and scammers are aware of this.  
 
Therefore, they set up fake charities and use high-pressure tactics to get you to donate.  
 
Often you can spot a fake charity with the face they only accept payment through gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency. 
 
You can check if a charity is legitimate through the  Fundraising Regulator’s online directory. 

7. Fake social media profiles 

Social media profiles are simple to impersonate, as all a scammer must do is copy their logo, branding, hashtags, and content etc. 
 
This mode of communication can trick customers into giving personal information or data or sell counterfeit products. 
 
You can often spot if a social media website is fake through its aggressive advertising campaigns.  
 
Always check if there is an alternative official social media account which is verified or has more followers before clicking on the one you have come across. 

8. Fake product reviews 

Fake Amazon product reviews are usually over-packed with technical jargon and feature unusual phrases. 
 
However, it is in fact humans that are promoting these in exchange for payment from the product manufacturer.  
 
There are 'review exchange' clubs online, normally on social media sites, where sellers on sites like Amazon will offer goods in return for overly generous comments-often ones that are extremely misleading. 
 
Therefore, if you want to get a more accurate review of a product, compare reviews of the same product on several other official retailers before you purchase. 

9. ‘Grey Market’ distribution 

During Black Friday, brands will be using all kinds of channels to market and sell their products. 
 
However, when a product falls out of a brand’s authorized network, they will no longer have control. 
 
When this happens, unauthorised sellers may not properly display, package, handle, or ship the correctly. Therefore, returning or exchanging the product will be a lot more difficult. 

10.  Gift card and discount scams

Gift cards are a popular gift at Christmas, which is why scammer will offer gift cards at a discount, but these cards are either empty or stolen.  
 
You should only buy gift cards from reputable sources, such as the retailer’s official store or online website. 
 
Similarly, discounts and coupons received via email or social media that are advertised as huge discounts, can also be void. Therefore, verify the source of the coupon to ensure its valid before using it.

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