Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself From Scams This Black Friday

Retail stores should be taking heightened security measures during the holiday season to protect their customers against cyberattacks, according to a cybersecurity company.

Black Friday may be more prone this year to cyberattacks as more consumers are choosing to shop online due to the coronavirus pandemic, cybersecurity company CRITICALSTART said recently.

Experts like Randy Watkins with CRITICALSTART, a Managed Detection and Response company that monitors cyber-attack detections, says extra caution is necessary when you’re digging for deals.

There are several ways to watch out for your personal information while you surf the internet to ensure your holiday shopping is “hacker free.”

“They don’t even really have to hack, they just have to convince you to give them your information,” Watkins said.

The first thing he says is to always be skeptical.

“Unfortunately, we have to live in a world of skepticism and vigilance when it comes to our security,” he added.

For all you online shoppers, he says, steer clear of site impersonations.

“An attacker will attempt to look like a large retailer and they will approach the user and convince them to log in to that website to capture the username and password,” Watkins said.

Hackers and scammers may use the large window of deals that retailers have created to lure potential victims to provide their sensitive information.

“A flood of aggressive advertising via social media and email may prompt consumers to dismiss red flags, making them even more susceptible to credential-harvesting phishing scams, account takeover and fraud,” the company said.

Consumers can protect themselves from having their information stolen from criminals in the following ways:

  • Inspect “appointment shopping” offers online closely
    Many stores will be offering “appointment shopping” this year to avoid hectic crowds and limit the spread of COVID-19. Before reserving an early spot you see on social media to get that deep discount, be sure to check the store or vendor’s official website to see if the offer is legitimate.
  • Be cautious of QR codes
    QR codes, those scan-able black and white squares have also seen a rise during the pandemic. While this is time-efficient, cybercriminals can create malicious QR codes to redirect users to fake websites and steal personal data or to install malware on personal devices, CRITICALSTART said.
  • Distance yourself from fake accounts
    Cybercriminals often use social-media scams to steal people’s data by impersonating other people’s or companies’ accounts. These types of attacks are becoming harder to spot as scammers are now using visual security questions to bypass normal safety features.

Featured on 12 News Phoenix | November 23, 2020

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