This year, Black Friday falls on the 26th of November, and it will no doubt be another bumper day of sales for retailers, with shoppers rushing to get some spectacular late Fall bargains. But it’s not just shoppers making the most of the sales: this is a day when online criminals also take the opportunity to cash in. Here are our tips on how to stay safe while still bagging the Black Friday bargains this year.
Protect Against Viruses and Malware
One of the simplest things you can do to protect yourself and your personal details is to make sure you’re running high-quality anti-virus software on your device and that you update it regularly. This is one of the best ways to prevent your device from being attacked and your details raided.
Internet protection software is also able to alert you so that you don’t inadvertently visit a dangerous site, and many packages offer regular updates regarding new threats to watch out for.
Make Sure Your Connection Is Secure
Ideally, when online shopping, use your home Wifi to connect to the internet, as this is both private and secure. If you do use a public Wifi connection, then boost your security by using a VPN (virtual private network) to prevent hackers from being able to spy on your activities and steal, for example, your credit card details. Read more info here on VPN networks and how they can protect you when you’re browsing for the best Black Friday deals.
Whatever connection you’re using, limiting the amount of information you provide is a great idea, and be sure to only visit websites that you trust: look out for clones with misspelled website addresses, for example.
Ask About Price Matching
If there’s a particular item you want, shop around: if it’s available in the Black Friday discounts offered by multiple retailers, then ask staff about whether they’re prepared to price match- you may be happily surprised.
And if you want to save time on the day itself, consider making a wish list beforehand: many sites now allow you to do this, so you can quickly and easily see if the prices have dropped on the items you really want rather than needing to go through hundreds of products.
Price Over Saving
It can be really easy to focus on the big, headline-grabbing savings when the prices are dropping, and you can see that stock availability is running low. But be mindful not to be persuaded to buy something that would still stretch your budget: it’s the price you need to remain focused on and its affordability in terms of your particular circumstances.
Things aren’t always as they seem, and it’s not uncommon for many high-end products to be on sale, over the course of a year, for a longer period than they were available at full price. This means that, months after Black Friday, you may well still find the item you want at a discounted price. You could even research the price history of your product to ascertain whether the cost is likely to rise again shortly.
Watch Out For Phishing Scams
Cybercriminals commonly use phishing scams to convince unsuspecting folk to hand over their details or to visit fraudulent sites. Some scams involve the fraudsters posing as a well-known and trusted brand, thereby convincing the recipient of the email to make a ‘purchase’ or to follow a link to a website to get some great Black Friday savings.
Emails are sometimes sent that appear, at first glance, to come from a trusted domain: watch out for misspelled email addresses and, if you’re in any doubt at all, delete the email and head to the retailer’s genuine website to report the incident.
Watch Your Bank Statements
Another easy way to stay safe is to monitor your bank and credit card statements regularly. Pay attention to several small charges from companies you don’t recognize, and look, too, for any company names that you don’t recognize or for transactions that are listed as originating from a different country.
Spotting the signs that your financial details have been compromised early can make a big difference to the losses you’ll potentially sustain and your ability to reclaim the funds. In the first instance, contact your bank or credit card company if you see any suspicious activity on your statements.
Check the Returns Policy
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and end up splurging on a load of items that we later realize we do not strictly ‘need.’ But be wary: returns may not be the free and no-hassle way to get your money back on things that you decide you don’t actually want.
An increasing number of retailers are now requiring buyers to pay their own shipping costs to send items back, which can make things slightly more painful when you wake up the next day and become cognizant of the fact that you may not, in reality, require a breadmaker.
Buy with caution, friends.