How to avoid a Black Friday scam

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Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day sales are all right around the corner, prompting a major bank to issue an urgent warning to shoppers to steer clear of scams.

Thousands of online and in-store retailers will take part in Black Friday sales across the globe, with massive discounts on everything from clothes to small appliances, supermarkets and travel.

National Australia Bank (NAB) has issued a warning to its customers to stay vigilant and be prepared for heightened scam activity.

NAB issues a scam warning ahead of the Black Friday sales. Picture: Sameer Al-Doumy/ AFPNAB issues a scam warning ahead of the Black Friday sales. Picture: Sameer Al-Doumy/ AFP

In 2021, there were more than 20,600 reports of online shopping scams to Scamwatch, totalling a reported loss of $8m.

This was a 9.5 per cent increase from 2020.

Here are some tips for staying safe online on Friday.

Too good to be true

Even when prices are being slashed at an incredible discount, it pays to compare prices at other retailers.

The bank has urged shoppers to be cautious when shopping online. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian GillesThe bank has urged shoppers to be cautious when shopping online. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles

“It’s a good idea to look at other websites to compare and investigate the store making the offer before making the purchase,” a NAB spokesman said.

Is this a fake website?

If an online store website looks a bit fishy, it’s a good idea to investigate further to confirm that it is a legitimate store.

A few key giveaways are the resolutions of branding and pictures.

Checking Google reviews is a good way to tell if a retailer is legitimate. Picture: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/ AFPChecking Google reviews is a good way to tell if a retailer is legitimate. Picture: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/ AFP

Some easy ways to do that include checking if the social media pages are genuine and check to see what their refund policy is.

A foolproof way to get a read on an online store is to check the Google reviews.

If a site is a scam, someone has probably already written about it.

If you can’t determine, stay on the safe side and shop elsewhere. Picture: Shae BeplateIf you can’t determine, stay on the safe side and shop elsewhere. Picture: Shae Beplate

“If you can’t determine if they’re genuine, it may be better to stick to a reputable store that you’re familiar with,” the NAB spokesman said.

“This is especially true if the online store is overseas, as there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back if it turns out to be a scam.”

Be wary of pop-up ads

Ads that pop-up on your screen when online shopping or using social media can be clever marketing tactics.

They can also be used to deliver malicious software and direct you to dodgy web pages or fake sales.

NAB suggests making sure that virus software is up to date and includes a pop-up blocker.

NAb suggests making sure that virus software is up to date. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian GillesNAb suggests making sure that virus software is up to date. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles

Suspicious emails and texts

Shoppers are warned to be on the lookout for suspicious emails and text messages.

If you receive an email or SMS with a sale campaign, don’t click on the link.

Criminals commonly use these methods to direct people to fake websites so that they can steal personal or financial information.

Don’t click on links sent via SMS or email. Instead, search in your browser for the genuine website. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian GillesDon’t click on links sent via SMS or email. Instead, search in your browser for the genuine website. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles

Instead, search in your browser for the official website and shop there.

Avoid in-store wi-fi

If you’re shopping in-store, avoid using the free in-store wi-fi.

“Unfortunately, these connections are often unsecure and are targeted by criminals to gain access to devices and data being shared on that network.,” the NAB spokesman said.

If you have to use public wi-fi, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to create a secure connection.

Also avoid doing online banking or shopping while on public wi-fi, as this information may be exposed and misused.

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