With the pandemic accelerating the adoption of e-commerce, our shopping habits have been irrevocably altered, leading to a surge in online bargain hunting.
Unfortunately, this has also meant a boon for cybercriminals, which makes it all the more essential to learn how to avoid scams online.
The Black Friday and holiday seasons are particularly lucrative for these digital thieves.
As consumers scour the internet for the best deals, scammers are also on the prowl, employing a myriad of tactics designed to pilfer personal, financial, or corporate information.
The Better Business Bureau reports that online shopping scams have been the most reported scam type since the beginning of 2022, with an 87% increase in online scams since 2015.
This alarming trend underscores the importance of staying informed about the latest scam tactics.
Most Common Online Scam Techniques Used by Hackers
In the vast sea of the internet, hackers have cast wide nets, and they use a variety of techniques to catch unsuspecting victims.
Understanding these common tactics can be your first line of defense against online scams.
Fraudulent websites are the digital storefronts of the scamming world, meticulously designed to mimic legitimate ones.
They aim to harvest your personal and financial information without raising suspicion.
To spot these imposters, always check for ‘HTTPS’ in the web address—a sign of security, along with the padlock icon next to it.
Be alert for poor grammar and spelling, as these are telltale signs of a scam.
Finally, a genuine business will always provide clear contact details; if these are missing or seem dubious, it’s a strong indication that the website might not be trustworthy.
Phishing scams are the chameleons of the cyber scam ecosystem, often taking the form of legitimate-looking emails or messages.
They prey on the unwary, coaxing out sensitive personal information under the guise of trustworthy communication.
One of their most effective tools is social engineering, where the scammer manipulates the victim into divulging confidential information through seemingly benign human interaction.
To understand how to avoid scams online, always approach unsolicited requests for personal data with a healthy dose of skepticism, and verify the source before responding.
The convenience of apps has a dark mirror in the form of fake applications, which are booby traps for the unwary.
These malicious apps masquerade as legitimate software, enticing you to download them, only to infect your device with malware aimed at stealing credit card information or other personal data.
A red flag to watch out for is any online retailer that insists you download an app before making a purchase – this is not standard practice and is often a sign of a scam in progress.
Bogus Antivirus Alerts
While browsing online stores, you might encounter sudden antivirus alerts claiming your device is at risk.
These pop-ups are scare tactics used by scammers to dupe you into installing malware under the guise of protective software.
Legitimate antivirus notifications will not intrude in this manner during your online shopping experience.
If you encounter such alerts, do not click on them; instead, to understand how to avoid online scams, close the window and run a scan with your trusted antivirus program.
By familiarizing yourself with these common scam techniques, you can shop online with more confidence and security.
Always stay alert and trust your instincts—if something feels off, it probably is, especually since threat actors use events such as Black Fridays scams to target unsuspecting buyers.
Tips for Secure Online Shopping
Choose Secure Payment Methods
When shopping online, the method of payment you choose can significantly impact your security.
Opting for digital wallets like Google Pay or Apple Pay, or using a credit card, can offer an extra layer of protection.
These methods not only provide secure transactions but also come with legal safeguards that can help you recover your funds if the purchase goes awry.
It’s a simple step that can offer peace of mind and a safety net to avoid online shopping scams.
Keep Software Up-to-Date
Your first line of defense against online threats is to maintain updated software on all your devices.
Scammers frequently exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain unauthorized access to your information.
By ensuring that your phone or PC is regularly updated, you close these security gaps to avoid shopping online scams and make it harder for cybercriminals to target you.
Think of software updates as reinforcing the walls of your digital fortress.
Be Wary of Downloads
Downloads can be a minefield if not navigated carefully.
If you must download an application, vigilance is key.
Check for telltale signs of a fake app, such as grammatical errors or a slightly altered logo.
Reviews can also be a goldmine of information—be cautious of an app with exclusively glowing reviews or a multitude of reviews despite being recently released.
Tools like NordVPN’s Threat Protection can be invaluable, scanning downloads for malicious content and providing an additional layer of security.
Question Too-Good-To-Be-True Offers
Offers that seem too good to be true often are.
Free gift cards and eye-popping discounts can be lures used by scammers to entice unsuspecting shoppers.
It’s crucial to approach such offers with a healthy dose of skepticism and to verify the legitimacy of the offer before proceeding.
Remember, if an offer requires you to provide extensive personal information or to download something, it’s likely a threat like Black Friday scams.
Use a Password Manager
A password manager is an essential tool for anyone who shops online.
It allows you to create strong, unique passwords for each of your shopping accounts without the need to remember each one.
This not only bolsters your security but also streamlines the process and avoid online shopping scams.
With your passwords and credit card information securely stored with a password manager such as NordPass, you can shop with confidence and convenience.
Employ a VPN
For an added layer of security, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when shopping online.
A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, effectively shielding your data from hackers and eavesdroppers.
This is particularly important when shopping on public Wi-Fi networks, which can be less secure, leading to an online shopping fraud.
With a VPN such as NordVPN, you can shop discreetly, knowing that your personal and financial information is encrypted and out of reach from prying eyes.
Enhance Your Online Security with NordPass
NordPass, crafted by the cybersecurity experts at Nord Security, is not just a password manager; it’s a fortress for your digital credentialsto avoid shopping online scams such as Black Friday scams.
NordPass simplifies your online experience by securely storing, auto-saving, and auto-filling your passwords and sensitive information.
With just one click, you can input complex, unique passwords, which is essential for safeguarding your online activities.
This ease of use does not compromise security; it enhances it by ensuring that you never have to settle for a weak password just because it’s easier to remember.
The premium subscription of NordPass goes a step further with its Password Health tool.
It’s like a wellness check-up for your passwords, identifying any that are weak, old, or reused—common vulnerabilities that hackers exploit.
Upgrading to NordPass premium means you’re not just storing passwords; you’re actively improving their strength and, by extension, your online security.
Data Leak Scanner
Your personal information is precious, and NordPass premium understands that.
It continuously scans the web for data leaks, alerting you if your emails, credit card details, or other private data have been compromised.
This proactive feature enables you to take immediate action to secure your accounts before any harm can be done and safe yourself from an online shopping fraud.
Life is unpredictable, and NordPass premium’s inheritance feature acknowledges this by allowing you to grant access to your passwords to trusted family members or friends in case of an emergency.
It’s a thoughtful way to ensure that your digital life can be managed smoothly, even if you’re unable to do so yourself.
At the heart of NordPass is its commitment to your privacy.
Operating under a zero-knowledge architecture, NordPass ensures that only you have access to your passwords and private information.
Coupled with xChaCha20 encryption, one of the most robust cryptographic methods, your credentials are not just stored but are shielded behind a virtually impenetrable barrier to avoid online shopping fraud.
NordPass offers a suite of features designed to protect and manage your passwords with the utmost security for skipping past shopping online scams.
By choosing NordPass, you’re not just choosing convenience; you’re opting for peace of mind, knowing that your online presence is secure, private, and in good hands.