Quick Tips for Consumers to Avoid Getting Scammed (or Hacked) While Black Friday Online Shopping

As the holiday shopping season gears up, cybercriminals are also ramping up their schemes to lure shoppers into convincing scams. Rick McElroy, Principal Cybersecurity Strategist at VMware, has shared a few security best practices below for consumers to better protect themselves from phishing scams this holiday shopping season:

“Every year, consumers flock online to secure a deal on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and this year promises to be no different. Cybercriminals – the opportunists that they are – will 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 modernize 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, 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 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. 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.

  • Be mindful of scams involving gift cards. 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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