What is Black Friday? 

Black Friday is a date on the calendar which started in America but has seen increasing popularity in Scotland over the past few years. Amazon introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, becoming an event on the calendar each year. On the last Friday in November, Black Friday allows shoppers to purchase discounted deals and promotions. Following on the Monday after Black Friday is Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is similar to Black Friday; however, this event typically focuses on online promotions. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have quickly escalated to be the peak pre-Christmas sale. While this benefits those shopping for Christmas, it has opened new avenues for cyber criminals to target their victims. As our inboxes are flooded with promotional emails and discount codes, it can become difficult to distinguish genuine emails from scams. 

So, whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any other day, online shoppers must be vigilant when making purchases. We’ve set out our top tips to help protect you this season from criminals and scams: 

Too Good to Be True Offers  

During this period, our emails, phones, and social media accounts will be overrun with amazing offers. While some of these will be genuine, there’s a risk that many will be scams containing links to fake websites set up to steal your money and your personal details. If you receive any emails or messages for offers that seem too good to be true, they likely are. To ensure that a website is genuine, type the website address directly into your browser or search engine, and if you’re unsure, the NCSC have guidance on dealing with suspicious emails, phone calls and text messages. 

Use Trusted Retailers 

Fake websites can often be challenging to spot; these often look like the real thing, but check the spelling and punctuation and search the website through your browser. If you’re using a website you’re unsure of, check out previous reviews from websites, people, and organisations you trust.

When accessing an online shop, the padlock symbol that you will often see next to the URL in the browser bar means that there is a secure connection. Although the padlock symbol does not mean the website is legitimate, others can’t see the information you send. 

Paying Online 

There are proactive steps you can take when paying online, which can help protect your personal details. 

Online retailers often persuade consumers to make an account and save their details for next time to make their checkout process quicker. However, when doing this, retailers will store your details, which can increase the risks of your account being hacked. If you can checkout as a “guest”, this is the safest option to select. When checking out online, only complete the mandatory fields required to complete your purchase, such as your delivery address and payment details. 

If you choose to set up an account with an online retailer, ensure that you use a strong password different from all your other accounts. We recommend using three random words to create a strong password. Creating a strong password that is different from all your other accounts will make it difficult to guess, and it also means that if a hacker gets one of your passwords, they will not be able to get into all your online accounts. 

When making any online purchases, use a credit card. Most credit card companies offer extra protection and insurance for online purchases. Using a credit card also means that if your credit card details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly impacted. Other safe online payment methods are PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay, as the retailer doesn’t see your payment details when payments are made using these platforms. 

Further Resources  

  • If you’ve been a victim of fraud or a scam, report this to Police Scotland by calling 101 and contact your bank to seek advice. 
  • Scam emails, texts, websites, adverts, or phone calls can be reported to the National Cyber Security Centre  
  • Improve your online security by following the cyber aware steps. 
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