As many of you may already be aware, next Friday 27th November is Black Friday, a day where most stores and online retailers offer huge promotions on products of all categories. It’s particularly popular in the technology sector, as we see large valued items like TVs and laptops plunge in price. Many businesses are already beginning to offer sales, despite the big day being a week away.
Unfortunately, as with all good things, there are risks. The surge in shoppers scouting for discounts and bargains offer cyber opportunists a chance to make themselves an extra bit of cash.
Cyber criminals leverage Black Friday sales, as they can easily reach shoppers who are eager to buy. Unrealistic offers that reel customers in, such as a television for half its usual price, would usually flag as suspicious! But on Black Friday, anything goes – leading naïve buyers into traps that leave them more out of pocket than they had anticipated.
We have seen announcements in recent news about Amazon Prime customers who have been notified of subscription changes. This con has managed to scam more than £400,000 from hundreds of unsuspecting victims in just a few months.
With Black Friday just a week away and Christmas around the corner, we fear that we might see a rise in the number of cyber scam victims as criminals attempt to make money.
That’s why we’ve put together a quick article with tips on how to spot the scammers this Black Friday and throughout the holidays!
We all love a bargain, there’s no doubt about that. Particularly this year, when many of us have faced unforeseen financial burdens, pay-cuts, redundancies and the various other challenges Coronavirus has thrown at us. Our shopping habits have changed – whilst we used to spend on clothes and holidays, we now find ourselves investing in DIY items or home-office equipment. Unfortunately for us, fraudsters are tuned into these trends and are cleverly leveraging them, meaning it’s more important than ever to stay alert.
With so many of us trapped indoors this Black Friday, the majority of sales are expected to take place online. A recent study revealed that 62% of consumers shop more online now than before the pandemic. For cyber criminals, this is a fantastic opportunity to target online shoppers with malicious threats that will leave their pockets empty.
So how can you stay one step ahead? It might sound obvious, but THINK before you click “buy”. The best way to spot a scammer is to interrogate their scam!
In the context of your business, you might have been looking into items for your team to use at home, such as laptops, monitors or even office chairs, so that they’re more comfortable whilst working remotely. If your inbox, or your employees’ inboxes, are flooded with deals offering these items for significantly less than they are valued… Ask yourself, is this realistic?
There are some great deals out there on Black Friday, but nobody is giving anything away for free.
Your first step is to check the sender’s email address. Is it from the official business communication email, or your assigned account manager? If not, that could be a sign.
Then review the content of the email. This is a tricky one, as many businesses will be sending emails with links to promotions during this time. However, downloadable files are not usually sent by e-commerce businesses, therefore this could be a red flag. Scammers also tend to make spelling and grammatical mistakes in their phishing emails too – so errors of this kind might help you identify if the source of the email is who they say they are.
Lastly, double-check that offer! If Amazon, or Curry’s, or even Furniture Village are sending emails about discounted products – those products will also be on their website. Always purchase goods directly from the company website to ensure you’re not being led into a false buying environment from a phishing email.
Unusual Payment Methods
Cyber criminals have got particularly good at obtaining details that they can profit from.
Whilst many scams are designed for one-time payments, others utilise things like business bank details or your customer’s personal information. Once obtaining this, they can hold your business to ransom, sell it on the dark web or commit identity fraud.
How can you avoid this? Look out for communications asking you to pay in unusual ways.
You know as a consumer that purchasing through a website’s official product pages is the safest way to ensure you get what you pay for. If you receive communication, via text, call or email, asking you to provide personal details either in writing or via a suspicious link – be vigilant!
This could lead to fraud or allow malware to be installed onto your device.
Only ever give your personal information and bank details when checking out items on a sellers website. You can always use secure payment methods such as Paypal or a credit card to purchase goods, so that if it is a scam you have a better chance of coming back from it!
Before e-commerce websites, salespeople would have to phone consumers to encourage them to buy goods. Today, it’s a far less popular and effective method to making sales.
In the aforementioned Amazon scandal in the recent headlines, it was reported that customers of Amazon Prime were being called by scammers claiming they needed to confirm bank details, subscription codes or refund payments.
There have also been reports of cold-calling scams where employees of businesses are contacted by someone claiming to work in IT, who say they have been notified of an issue on a device. Unfortunately, some employees of businesses willingly provide these callers with remote access to their device, leading to the installation of malicious malware or ransomware.
The best way to avoid falling victim to fraudulent cold-calling is to check in with the official organisation before doing anything.
If they require additional personal information – log into your account with the company in question and provide the updated information via the portal. If there isn’t an online account option available, reach out to the official contact information provided on the website and confirm that this call was from someone in their team. Alternatively, check-in with your account manager who should know if calls are being made to customers.
Be cyber aware
Cyber security is a complex but vital focus, particularly for business owners, who’s financial losses as a result of a cyber-attack could lead to liquidation!
Whether it’s Black Friday, Christmas, or any other time of year – cyber criminals are out there and they are waiting to prey on vulnerable businesses. If your business has weak cyber security, or a workforce unaware of the threats, you could be next. It only takes one click on a link in an email from an innocent member of your team to push your company into financial ruin.
Luckily, companies like Virtuoso are here to help. We work with our customers to build them robust cyber security environments. ThreatProtect, our cyber security package, allows your business to be supported by the specialists from our cyber security team, who use carefully selected toolsets, that leverage the latest cloud, AI and machine learning capabilities, to intelligently detect, identify and respond to any potential cyber threats your business is facing.
Want to know more? Get in touch today!