How cyber crooks want to swindle you this Black Friday

2016-11-24 12:58 - *Heino Gevers
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The first consumer through the doors at the Checkers Hyper in Brackenfell on Black Friday in 2014. (Supplied)

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Black Friday is a single day to take advantage of unbelievable discounts and limited stock.

The day’s appeal is undeniable, but it’s also an opportune time for criminals to take advantage of you.

And they’ll use anything to con you – from fake coupons and malicious websites to forged banking emails.

You need to be careful about who you’re giving your personal information to on November 25, especially over email.

Here are tips to keep digitally safe over this period.

READ: These are the pros and cons of Black Friday

Pay attention to URLs

Scammers are experts at replicating the look and feel of an official email. The only surefire way to determine the authenticity of an email is to look at the URLs contained within. So, look for errors. To the untrained eye “takalot.co.za” seems correct, but shouldn’t it be “takealot.co.za”? The wrong URL will often redirect you to a malicious site, created with the sole intent of ripping you off. And always check for the green padlock in the URL of any page where a monetary transaction is taking place.

Update, update, update

There’s no way around it. Letting your antivirus software fall behind on updates is guaranteed to get you into trouble. New threats are added to your antivirus’ database through updates, without which it has no way of recognising the latest malware or viruses or newly created malicious websites.


Black Friday offers a bonanza of deals but beware of cyber snoopers, says an expert.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

All too aware that you’re on the hunt for a good bargain, cyber criminals will email you enticing offers from your favourite websites, hoping to tempt you long enough to drop your guard and click on the links provided. If you see an offer you like, visit the website the email purports to be from (typing it out yourself rather than following the link in the email), and make sure the deal is real. The same goes for financial emails. Rather navigate to your bank’s website yourself, and avoid potentially forged emails altogether.

The internet is your greatest ally

There are any number of resources available online to assist you. Unfamiliar with the dangers presented by the Internet? Look for news and blogs about the latest events and techniques cyber criminals use, like spear-phishing, social engineering and ransomware. Don’t trust a retailer or URL? See what others have to say about it online, or use online tools to scan links and files for threats – try “scanurl.net” or “virustotal.com”.

Use loyalty points instead

We’ve all allotted up loyalty points over the course of the year – like eBucks or Greenbacks – and it’s the perfect time to use them. Because you’re not dealing with cash directly, or your banking credentials, your bank account is that much more secure.

Stop and think

How many times has your bank told you or advertised on its site that they will never elicit sensitive data over email? We’re willing to bet a lot. That goes for retailers too. Email is simply not a secure method of transaction, so we suggest you immediately avoid any entity that asks for personal information this way.

Few events will bring an end to celebrations like being a victim of cyber crime, losing personal information, money, and perhaps more. Thankfully, following these tips will give you the advantage you need to stay one step ahead of cyber crime.

*Heino Gevers is the Customer Experience Manager at Mimecast South Africa.

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