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Getting what you bargained for: How to stay safe this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

18 November 2019

What are Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are both flash sales that take place the weekend after Thanksgiving. Black Friday takes place usually on the midnight leading into the final weekend of November, and Cyber Monday takes place the following Monday.

Most people say Black Friday began in 1980s America, but it’s definitely popular all over the world now. In the UK you’ve probably seen the banners outside shops, the promotional emails in your inbox, and even ads on social media telling you about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a big deal for businesses, and it can mean some fantastic deals for you too. Some of the best ones could be just a few clicks away.

But before buying anything online, make sure you take some precautions:

  • Did you check the website's URL to make sure it's secure?
  • Does that cheap gift card or huge discount seem realistic, like an amount you'd see on the high street?
  • Does your bank or card provider ask you to provide verification for your payment?

If you’re buying a high-value item, this is where you could lose the most if you don’t know the warning signs.

The NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) suggest if something looks to be good to be true, it normally is.

Here's how to avoid financial fraud, and learn the scammers' tricks of the trade:

Look for the lock

If you're browsing online and your web address doesn't start with 'https://', pause. Look for the little padlock icon next to it. If neither is there, then it's time to find another site to shop on.

A secure site stores any passwords, card details, or any other confidential information you give to them securely. Unsecured sites could be open to hackers or fraudsters who might take those details for themselves. It's a financial risk that you could easily avoid, regardless of the deals on the page.

Nowadays, most legitimate sites have the https-and-padlock combo these days so it should be pretty easy to figure out which sites are safe. The Money Advice Service have put together a useful guide which explains what red flags you should be looking out for and how to shop safely online.

Does that sales email have lots of spelling mistakes?

We've all seen emails with spelling mistakes in them. Sometimes it's an honest mistake by a reputable company. But, if you see a lot of bad spelling or bad grammar in promotional emails, it may be deliberate. So don't fall for it!

The Citizens Advice Service suggest almost three quarters of us have been targeted by scammers in the last year.

Here are some more quick tips to keep safe this Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Don’t save your card details on websites when shopping online. Fraudsters can target websites and hack into their customers’ card details. 
  • Don’t reply to offers from unsolicited emails. Sometimes these emails are fake, and will send you through to a scammer or fraudulent link.
  • The customer feedback on the website or social media feed could be fake too. It’s rare, but sellers can delete negative comments about their business. Do some research on the company, and use the exact wording of the advert when searching for them online.
  • Don’t pay via money transfer. If someone asks you to transfer money to another account, through international funds or crypto-currency like Bitcoin, then it could be a scam. Use your Debit or Credit Card or an online payment transfer service such as PayPal, as these provide you with additional protection.
  • Install Trusteer Rapport on your home device(s). It’s free, secure, and even alerts you if you’ve entered your details on an unsecured website.
  • Only use trusted, reputable online retailers. The padlock symbol tip is a good one to consider, but also stay wary if you get in touch with them through social media. They might not be who they say they are.

How does The Co-operative Bank protect me and reduce the risk of fraud?

We have high-tech security measures to keep you safe, when you shop online, which you can find on our 'How we protect you' page.

So, be safe out there this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Hopefully with these tips, you'll be able to shop safely and wisely this November – as well as the rest of the year. Happy shopping!

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