Following the pandemic and the growing consumer confidence in e-commerce shopping sites, much of the annual Black Friday spending spree has now moved online. This means that consumers are more vulnerable to credit and debit card fraud and scams than they were when spending their hard-earned money in person in stores. But amidst the fun and frivolity, it’s worth keeping in mind that 30% to 50% of the annual average of data breaches happen in November and December alone.
Financial services providers might consider being as vocal in their how-to-avoid-being-scammed messaging as stores are on their bargain basement deals
Shoppers are especially vulnerable in the excitement of clinching a serious deal, and in their haste to bag the purchase before the item sells out or the website crashes. We should all heed warnings about the proliferation of hastily set up websites designed only to fleece gullible and unsuspecting consumers in the November/December period. Financial institutions can help their customers be more aware of the dangers around this high spending season and how to take measures to avoid being scammed.
Avoiding Black Friday scams: tips to share with consumers
The cardinal rule is that if a bargain sounds too good to be true – even if it is Black Friday – it probably is. Other top tips include:
Don’t click links in emails
The use of emails is a particularly common method for fraudsters to obtain credit card information or your identity. In phishing emails, hackers copy a store's sale or discount email and include a link to a fake portal asking for personal information.
Opt for a private network
Public WiFi networks aren’t threat-free which means a committed criminal could impersonate a public network or website to steal credentials and highly sensitive
Beware of digital skimming
Preferably shop only on well-known and reputable e-commerce sites and stores’ own online shopping platforms. Avoid pop-up sites advertising products, especially on social media. Instead of using credit card details on a website, opt instead to use trusted payment gateways like PayFast, Peach Payments, or Ozow. Credit card information should never be saved on any sites, as digital skimming from check-out pages is a real danger.
Don’t use a debit card
If you aren’t tech-savvy, then protect yourself by using a credit card instead of a debit card. Consumers should be encouraged by all credit and debit card issuers, banks and other financial institutions to ensure that anything that is password protected is protected in a meaningful way, using a variety of passwords and steering clear of obvious keywords.
We all have a responsibility to safeguard ourselves against financial scams
Financial institutions have multiple responsibilities in protecting their consumers. It is incumbent on them to ensure that all their own systems and processes are protected adequately from phishing, data breaches and other digital attacks by professional hackers and keep consumers informed of their own responsibilities in safeguarding their financial information.
From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and through November and December when retail spending increases, consumers are especially vulnerable, and by extension so are the financial institutions and banks that serve them. We all need to work together to ensure maximum protection from scammers and thieves and the loss and inconvenience they can cause over this period and beyond.