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Black Friday scams you shouldn’t fall for during the shopping madness

December 2020 by NordVPN

According to Adobe Analytics, online shopping is expected to grow by 33% this holiday season because of the lockdowns. Black Friday is a bargain hunt that for some merchants generates half of their annual sales. Fraudsters also capitalize on this occasion, leaving people’s wallets wiped out.

According to the Cyber Risk Index (CRI) calculated by NordVPN, residents of developed countries are more likely to become victims of cybercrime despite the fact that they consider themselves tech-savvy and well-protected. For example, France ranks 30th globally with a CRI score of 0.467, which is considered as a moderate risk. Developed countries offer better access to the internet and higher wages, which translates to more smartphones and heavy usage of online services.

How do fraudsters find their victims?

Emails and online banners are often the mediums for cybercriminal outreach. Very often, fraudsters use the same methods legitimate advertisers do. They rely on advertising engines like Facebook and Google to push their banners on users. Although these companies have strong safeguards in place, some banners still slip in.

Alternatively, some scammers study their potential future victims and analyze their online behavior, which can be easily done if the victim is browsing the web unprotected. That’s why it’s important to remember that secure websites have HTTPS in their address.

Additionally, users should protect themselves with a VPN connection. It prevents eavesdropping and would make it harder for scammers to intercept their payment.

However, whenever indulging in a shopping spree, Black Friday shoppers should watch out for certain red flags, like offers that look too good to be true or links received from financial institutions, as those might be fake.

Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN, listed the 5 major scenarios scammers will be exploiting in 2020:

1. Fake invoices. Paying an invoice that looks exactly like a utility one can easily happen when people make more transactions than usual. This type of scams is called Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud. The victims cannot reverse the payment once they realize they have been conned.

2. Bank notifications. Fraudsters mimic emails sent by banks, claiming that the purchases the victims have made couldn’t be processed. Willing to reinstate the payment, the victims then click on the link and enter their bank credentials on a fake bank website that looks exactly like the genuine one. This way, they give away all their bank credentials to the fraudsters.

3. “Your order has been cancelled”. These scams can go as far as “Sorry, we are out of stock, and your order has been cancelled. To claim your refund, please click here.” Once the victim clicks on the link, they are asked to enter the details of the credit card to which they want to receive the refund and end up with their bank accounts being wiped out.

4. Lookalike pages. Amazo?.com,, googIe.comv — most users do not spot the discrepancies in the address bar as long as the website design looks legitimate. They process the payment for the items in their shopping cart and end up robbed.

5. Renew your membership for the purchases you’ve made. Once you’ve finished with your purchases, scammers will send you an email claiming that your Amazon Prime subscription is due and the discount cannot be applied. So, if you want your items to get delivered, you have to renew the subscription. Ultimately, the victim gets tricked into disclosing their bank details.

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