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How can you stay safe online this Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

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As we enter the festive season many of us will take advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to either make a start or complete some Christmas shopping.

With the increased online traffic, fraudsters will see this as a perfect opportunity to try and trick excited discount hunters. This means an influx of phishing emails, account hackers, social media advertisement scams and shopping fraud.

We’ve listed a few ways to protect your personal details and bank account from falling victim to the circulating scams on the internet.

Choose carefully where you shop

What’s great about Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that we know in advance the date these sales are on. If you’ve read our previous blog on Christmas budgeting then before you start your shopping spree you’ll have a list ready to go and an idea of the shops you’ll want to browse.

When choosing where to shop online, ensure that the URL link is legitimate. To help with this you can read reviews of the store, look for the padlock sign next to the URL and logic check the web address. Does it seem legitimate to you?

Most well-known credit card providers insure online purchases, so it might be safer to pay via this method. Once you receive your items you can transfer the money from your bank account to your credit card provider to ensure you’re on top of your payments.

If the purchase requires a bank transfer, abort immediately. A genuine online store will never ask for a bank transfer; if this happens alarm bells should ring.

Is it too good to be true?

You search for a pair of trainers via a search engine and one site seems to be considerably cheaper than the rest. A bargain? Maybe, but more like a scam or counterfeit goods. If a deal seems to be significantly cheaper via a specialist site than you’d get on the high street, do some more digging.

Look for the contact details of the store to see where it’s based and review sites. These actions will usually help identify scam sites or websites selling counterfeit goods.

Do a digital cleanse

Scammers can successfully get hold of your personal details via your email, devices or apps.

Keeping your devices up-to-date with the latest software and app updates will make it difficult for fraudsters to hack your mobile, laptop or tablet.

It’s important to ensure you have high quality and obscure passwords (the more complicated, the better) for your email and any online accounts. Often fraudsters will access an email address that has a weak password and search for any personal information within your inbox, such as your bank account and card details. It is recommended and encouraged to have different passwords for your different accounts.

To enhance your digital protection when online shopping you can turn on ‘two-factor authentication (2FA)’. This is a security service that applies an extra identity check to make sure it really is you. Most banks now apply this when making a transaction, compelling the purchaser to approve the purchase via the bank’s app or a text code.

Phishing emails and risky links

A common way for fraudsters to catch their victims out is via emails and links.

The emails fraudsters send can come across as genuine and they have gotten more sophisticated in using this method. Victims who click on these types of emails are usually asked to follow a link and fill out their personal details.

It’s important to stay vigilant with emails and links because the fraudsters often pose as legitimate companies.

Be on the lookout for fake social media ads

Social media scams can range from product discounts to investments and pension schemes. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, scammers and their methods of fake social media scams will be on the rise.

Fraudsters will go to the extent of paying for their advertisements to show on potential victim’s timelines. Similar to their fake email methods, they create profiles impersonating big brand names and ‘genuine’ companies.

Stay vigilant and ensure it’s the real deal, check the branding and whether the URL matches the social media website.

What to do if you fall victim to a fraudster

No one intends to be scammed, have their bank details taken and have money stolen straight from their account, so when you fall victim to this it’s an honest mistake.

If you have fallen victim to a scam or even have suspicions about a website you can report the details to Action Fraud and contact your bank for further advice and keep an eye on your transactions on your account statement.

For further advice on various online scams to look out for and tips on how to avoid them, UK Finance have an ongoing national campaign called ‘Take Five’ to raise awareness and educate the public on fraud.

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551