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Tips for staying safe online this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

November 2021 by Rick McElroy, Principal Cybersecurity Strategist at VMware

“Every year, the world flocks online to secure a deal and spend millions on and around Black Friday. And cybercriminals – the opportunists that they are – respond with the same enthusiasm. It’s important that consumers are aware of some of the most prevalent tricks that fraudsters will target them with online.

• “To protect yourself, set up multi-factor authentication and don’t recycle passwords, or passphrases, across multiple accounts. Attackers are and will continue to modernise their tactics to find new ways to put consumers’ financial data at risk.

• “If it looks too good to be true, it may very well be. This year, the scarcity of some products predicted in the run-up to the festive season, due to the ongoing supply chain issues, is creating a more attractive playing field for fraudsters. Consumers should keep in mind that if someone is offering a shortcut to the front of the line for an in-demand product, it may be a scam.

• “Verify requests for additional custom fees or delivery charges. With shopping habits shifting further online as a result of the pandemic, attackers are attempting to trick customers into paying customs fees or delivery charges through fake tracking notifications. Following the rush of purchases many consumers will make online over the Black Friday weekend, it may prove much harder for them to do their due diligence when receiving seemingly legitimate texts or calls from couriers. It’s therefore important to always err on the side of caution - go directly to the official website (rather than clicking on any links shared in emails or texts) and manually enter the tracking number there.

• “Fraudsters and scammers are everywhere this retail season. Be mindful of scams involving gift cards. Don’t fall for something too good to be true. Scammers will hold an “online auction” for cards that haven’t been activated. People buy the cards, but then find out these cards don’t work. Bottom line: avoid online auctions for gift cards.”

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