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How to avoid online criminals this Black Friday

By Ria Manzanero


November 18, 2022

With Black Friday less than a week away, we’re all excited to get our mitts on some discounted items. Fashion, technology, food and homeware will all be on offer, with many retailers offering deals that seem impossible to ignore! Unfortunately, online criminals also have their eyes on the prize, developing new and intelligent methods to scam keen shoppers.

With so many new deals on offer, spotting something out of the ordinary becomes tricky, which makes it the perfect climate for a scammer to strike! In last year’s Black Friday scams article, we discussed some of the scams you might expect with online shopping, including unlikely offers, unusual payment methods and cold calls.

Online shopping

Whilst all these threats are still prominent (and you should be aware of them), there are few new, sophisticated scams that have arisen in 2022 that you should be aware of. These include fake order scams, fake delivery scams and WhatsApp offer scams.

So, before you indulge in the many deals on offer, have a quick read of this article so you know how you can avoid online criminals this Black Friday and shop safely over the festive period.

Fake order scam

This year it seems fake order scams are on the rise. This scam can come in the form of an SMS or email. Typically, you will receive a message that says something along the lines of “Your order has been shipped” or “Your order is on its way”.

Under normal circumstances, an email or text like this would flag as a scam, as you would be well aware that you have not ordered anything. However, during the Black Friday and Christmas period, people tend to shop more frequently, ordering lots of items online at one time. You might be expecting multiple items, so receiving a message like this could be quite convincing.

Within the SMS or email, there will be a malicious link, encouraging victims to click it. The message might be offering you to “cancel” or “track” your order by following the link.

Upon clicking this link, two things could happen:

  1. You could be taken to a page asking for personal information, like your name, phone number, email address or bank details.
  2. If accessing the link on your desktop, it could download a malicious file that corrupts your device, or steals personal information.

Fake order scam

What are the risks of a fake order scam?

Sharing your personal information with online scammers could lead to identity theft, fraud or compromised details on the dark web.

If you don’t share details, but instead download a malicious file, hackers could gain access to your personal information, or download ransomware that forces you to pay a hefty fine to release your device from their control.

How to avoid a fake order scam?

To prevent falling victim to a fake order scam, you must ensure you keep on top of what you order online. If you’re shopping for lots of items at one time, perhaps create a folder in your email account where you file all order confirmation emails. This will make it easier for you to cross-check when receiving communications about order shipping.

Another way to avoid scams like this is to closely examine texts and emails. What is the name of the business contacting you? What email address or phone number are they using? Are they using an official logo, or something different? Is there a feeling of urgency or pushiness in the message? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine the legitimacy of the sender.

Fake delivery notification scam

With Black Friday and Christmas bringing a rise in deliveries, fraudsters have developed clever ways to get immediate payment from victims. Similar to the fake order scam, you might also receive communications from scammers notifying you of a “delivery”. This scam is also common on both SMS and email, so you have to remain vigilant.

These scams typically follow the same steps. You will receive a text or email about the delivery of your package. There will be a tracking link urging you to click, in order to update your delivery or payment preference. You will land on a website page that prompts you to “confirm your payment details”. You will then have a big payment taken – for an item that doesn’t exist!

These scams can be dangerously convincing, as scammers will have not only reached you via text or email, but they could include your personal delivery address in their communications. It will seem legitimate, but it is not!

Fake delivery notification scam

What are the risks of a fake delivery scam?

The immediate risk of this scam is that a lot of money will be taken from your account. Once online criminals have your banking information, they have the freedom to take as much money as they like, as frequently as they like! As well as using your personal information and money to commit other crimes online.

How to avoid a fake delivery scam?

The best way to avoid a fake delivery scam is NEVER click a suspicious link and NEVER re-enter your bank details. If you genuinely believe you need to confirm your payment information to receive an order, speak to the seller or delivery service using the contact details stated on their official website. Or, log in to your account on the official website and investigate the whereabouts of your parcel.

When it comes to payments, you should never be redirected to another website to re-enter your bank details. A legitimate seller would only expect payment via their official site or via a trusted payment gateway, like PayPal.

British Airways points scam

The last scam we’re going to share the details on is the recent British Airways points scam, which has been rife in the news this year. As so many of us are suckers for a good bargain holiday deal, this phishing attack has already trapped many victims.

The scam is circulating on WhatsApp, detailing a special “British Airways Black Friday giveaway”. The message informs victims that they are “winners” and will be able to validate their prize if they forward the offer to 20 friends. The offer is 5,000 economy flights to Europe over the winter season. Sounds pretty good, right?

During Black Friday, we all expect generosity. We don’t ask questions. In fact, a recent study by Barclays has found that one in five people are willing to give recognition to a “too good to be true” deal, in the hope that it is! So it’s no wonder a scam like this is spreading so quickly, without question.

British Airways Points Scam

What are the risks of the British Airways points scam?

This scam uses the trusted platform WhatsApp to reach its victims, making them all the more unsuspecting. You receive messages from your friends via WhatsApp all the time, so you wouldn’t ignore such an offer if it landed on your lap.

The risks of this scam are that, of course, the link in the message leads people to a fake loyalty and points website page. This page is only there with the intention of harvesting your personal and financial data.

How to avoid a British Airways points scam?

As a user of WhatsApp, you must be aware that this platform is largely unregulated. Messages are sent and spread without monitoring, therefore you cannot believe everything you receive.

If you do receive a chain message like this, with a too good to be true offer, avoid sharing it with friends and family until you have done your research! Head to the official website of British Airways, American Express, or whomever the company in question is, and see if this offer exists before spreading the word.

Cyber crime isn’t just here for Black Friday

Whilst we are expecting a rise in cyber crime this Black Friday, unfortunately, cyber criminals operate all year round, which means you’re at risk all year round.

At Virtuoso, cyber security is at the heart of everything we do. Every business we work with receives advanced security tools, support and training to ensure they can operate freely, without the worry of online threats.

If you’re part of a business that wants to scrub up on its cyber awareness, get in touch with us today! We have a whole range of cyber security services that can help you protect your business from the many, changing, online threats.