6 Tips to Stay Secure Online this Black Friday
In insight / By Charlotte Tobulevicius / 22 November 2019
It’s that time of year again. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner and in Britain, we’re expected to spend an estimated £7 billion in the sales this year. In the UK, this sales event is very much an online affair, unlike the level of hysteria in the US where shoppers queue outside physical stores the night before. However, more of us are participating in the sales each year which is encouraging many more retailers to get involved and promote their businesses.
According to Finder's Study, 36% of adults in Britain planned to participate in the Black Friday sales and this year that figure has risen to 62%. Due to economic uncertainty, the amount we spend per person has decreased since last year but with the numbers of people taking part rising. This means that as a nation we're spending £2.5 billion more than last year.
With this increase in online spending, there is also an increased cyber threat from hackers looking to steal your personal details and ruin your Christmas. We’re sharing our top five tips for staying secure when shopping online this Black Friday.
1. Shop on Websites You’re Familiar With
If you've shopped on a website before and have not come across any problems, then it’s a good idea to stick to what you know when it comes to security. More than half of the Black Friday sales were made on Amazon last year and with the brand being a trustworthy name which processes millions of transactions every day, it’s a good place to start.
But what about the smaller retailers? With so many new online shops and small boutiques appearing online and on social media, it’s tempting to steer away from the big retailers in favour of independent businesses and those which may offer a better deal. We’re not saying don’t shop with these because spending money with independent businesses is a great thing, but please be careful and ensure they are secure, verified websites.
2. Only Use Websites With Secure Checkouts
Your shopping cart is one of the most vulnerable points for a fraudster to attack you ,so make sure you’re using encrypted checkout processes. These are identified by clearly stating ‘secure checkout’ on the website and will also usually have a small padlock next to the website’s URL in your browser which is triggered when checking out.
Lots of online shops now allow you to use secure payment methods such as Paypal or Google checkout to give you that extra layer of protection. If you do use something like PayPal, it’s a good idea to use this instead of your card details when checking out online.
If you’re still a little unsure whether the website you’re using is secure, double check the URL bar - most trustworthy websites have now converted to ‘https’ to build trust on their checkouts.
3. Read the Reviews
Reviews are a great place to start when researching which online stores to buy from in the sales and you can usually tell straight away if the website is genuine or not. People are always quick to review and let others know if they’ve come across a scam website or have had their details fraudulently taken by one of these sites.
Some websites will also have reviews on their own product pages but be wary of these as fraudsters have been known to write fake reviews to forge authenticity.
It’s best to look at reviews on sites like Trust pilot or Google Reviews, but remember, a website with lots of four-star reviews tends to be more reliable than a site with one single five-star review.
4. Trust Your Instincts and Use Common Sense
It’s easy to get caught up in the deals and savings to be made, but always use your common sense and trust your instinct when it comes to making a purchase. You can usually tell quite early on if a website looks genuine or not.
To establish whether a website looks secure, ask yourself the following:
- Is the website’s product range easy to browse?
- Does the site use high-quality imagery?
- Are the product descriptions written to a high standard and free from errors?
- Is it easy and simple to checkout?
Once you’ve determined that the website looks secure, take note of the deals being offered to further your research into whether the site is genuine. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. For example, you’re not going to get the new iPhone 11 for £150, but you might get the new iPhone 11 at full price with a free case and screen protector.
5. Choose Complex Passwords and Change Them Regularly
When shopping online, it’s highly likely that you’ll have online accounts set up with your favourite retailers for easier and faster checkout, but have you changed your password recently? In the run up to Black Friday, it’s worth signing into the retailers’ websites that you plan to use and changing the passwords, especially if they're simple and used on multiple websites.
Simple passwords can be hacked within milliseconds so make sure your account passwords are secure, hard to guess and different on each account – you don’t want a hacker getting into your PayPal account after they’ve hacked your weak password on eBay! As a minimum criterion, you should have a lowercase letter, capital letter, special character and a number. Find out how to set a secure password in our blog.
6. Ignore Pop-Ups
When you’re caught up in the buzz of Black Friday and are shopping quickly to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest deals, it’s easy to accidentally click on pop-ups which could contain sinister content. If you click on or install the content contained in these pop-ups, you could end up with a plethora of problems on your device, so steer clear!
By following these simple steps, you’re in a much better position to avoid being stung by fraudsters this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and can relax safe in the knowledge that you’ve taken all precautionary measures to protect your personal information.