Shop wisely and avoid online shopping scams on Black Friday

Black Friday, traditionally the day after Thanksgiving in America, marks the beginning of the festive shopping season and sees retailers offering discounts and deals across various product categories.  Just a few days away, Alina Hardcastle takes a look at how to shop carefully and avoid online shopping scams during this discount frenzy.

Shop wisely

Kevin Tucker, founder of leading product discovery and comparison service, PriceCheck, says that savvy shoppers can really get a lot out of Black Friday in South Africa, particularly if they are prepared and know how to recognise and identify great deals.

Unfortunately some of these deals are too good to be true. Tucker suggests that consumers have an idea of what the ‘normal’ retail prices are for certain products of interest, so that shoppers can identify when retailers are overstating the discounts.  He says: “It’s worth sticking with the names and brands you already know, and investigating every deal before jumping in.”

In addition, before going ahead with a transaction, Tucker advises that consumers read the finer details very carefully i.e. product specifications as well as to any promises around delivery and timelines.

“While some retailers might dangle big discounts, it doesn’t always mean that the product will arrive on your doorstep the next day,” says Tucker. “We recommend that consumers ensure that retailers can follow through on their customer service expectations and deliver…in all senses of the word.”

Online banking fraud

Shoppers also need to be wary of cybercriminals as they too are looking to benefit during this shopping extravaganza. Yolande Steyn, head of innovation at FNB, says: “Cybercrime is becoming increasingly sophisticated with fraudsters constantly finding new ways of carrying out their unlawful conduct, especially during busy periods like the festive season.”

Steyn shares the following tips to ensure that consumers keep their money safe throughout the festive period:

  • Keep your PIN and password secure. If you think your PIN or password has been compromised, change it immediately either through online banking or at your nearest ATM or branch. Also be sure to change your passwords and pin codes regularly.
  • Make sure that you never use the same username and password for banking as you use on website i.e.  Social media accounts and your email.
  • Log onto your bank’s website by typing in the web address yourself instead of accessing it via Google search as this may lead you to a spoofed site.
  • Do online banking on a secure computer that you use regularly at home or work; and not in public areas such as internet café’s or shared computers as you can never know what type of software is loaded that may compromise your transactions.
  • Monitor your cell phone reception. If you have lost signal for an unusually long time, you may be a victim of a SIM swop fraud. Immediately contact your mobile network to report this.
  • Avoid opening suspicious or unfamiliar e-mails or attachments, and don’t click on the links in emails or SMS’S. Criminals make emails and SMS look legitimate and often bait you with scare tactics to confirm your account details or to login to prevent your account from being closed. They even intensities you to win something or get something for free in order to get access to your account.
  • Only make online purchases with your card on reputable websites that are verified as secure sites (look for the lock icon in your browser and ensure that the address starts with https://).
  • Don’t save usernames, passwords or PINS on your mobile device or computer as it may allow access to your banking details without your permission.

Final tip

Tucker concludes: “We are expecting a 30-50% increase in online retail sales on the day, so it is important that shoppers understand how to navigate local e-commerce sites safely and seamlessly.”

To view the confirmed list of South African stores offering Black Friday Deals, click here.