Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Three Holiday Scams To Avoid While Shopping

In a typical year, Thanksgiving is a time for feasting and enjoying (read: dreading) family feuds on the dinner table over a great deal on Amazon. That’s right, what would the holidays be without Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Sure, you have your credit cards ready, but a certain group of individuals is busier than you, plotting against naïve shopaholics to rob off their money, account credentials, and other private details. Do you know what this group is? Yes, you have guessed it right: Hackers!

According to the latest research by McAfee, 34% of Canadians have fallen victim to online frauds so far this year, with an additional 40 percent have been exposed to online phishing scams.


According to the findings, 74% of Canadians visited or bought items from web-based retailers, while the same number was banked online. These numbers are expected to rise further because, like come on, it’s black Friday; expect to see everyone go completely nuts, trying to grab the best deals and not even considering if it’s legitimate.

So, this time we want you to be extra careful and watch out for these 3 common scams while shopping on this week’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales:

Fake websites and fraudulent apps go phishing


Phishing schemes are plotted carefully on various retail sites, luring victims into clicking links to get their hands on their private information, credit card number, social security, or account credentials. It also comes in the form of emails, pretending to be a large retail service to alert you about a certain deal or transaction discrepancy.

Researchers found that some hackers have sent out fake Amazon order confirmation notifications, except that the order is fake, but the price is significant.

Usually, you will reach out to the retailer if you believe you’ve been wrongly charged for a substantial amount. But in this case, if you click on the provided link, you will be redirected to a fake Amazon page with a false phone number. And let me tell you, once you get there, they will deploy different ways to extract your private information, banking details, and whatnot!

To identify and prevent any sort of phishing attacks:

  • check for grammatical errors in the email.
  • Reach out to the official Amazon site instead of clicking the provided links in the email.
  • Look for suspicious attachments or links
  • Never trust urgency or alarming messages
  • Don’t give up on unrealistic deals like gift coupons, discount amounts, etc.
  • Don’t respond to any unknown numbers

Credit Card Skimming


You might have seen this in movies, where hacker plots an object over a card reader, hidden in a way as if it’s the part of the ATM, and sneakily wait for people to swipe their cards. Then after a day or two, the robber returns to collect the object – known as a skimmer – carrying the information of all the cards that have been swiped till then. They use this information to make purchases, withdraw money, and more.

Here are a few precautions you can use to protect yourself:

  • Don’t leave your credit card saved on retail sites.
  • If possible, try using a third-party payment method such as Google Wallet, Apple Pay, or PayPal.
  • Only shop over your home or cellular network and not on a public Wi-Fi where your transaction could be intercepted. And if using open Wi-Fi is inevitable for you, then consider connecting to a reliable VPN first, as it hides your identity and encrypts your entire online traffic.
  • Disable international purchases on all credit cards
  • Enable alerts for new purchases on all your credit cards.

Social Media Scams


Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even YouTube have become hotbeds for deception. The fraudulent content has amplified during this past year (thanks to Pandemic) and even more during holidays.

You may see posts on Instagram disguised as giveaway posts from influences, but in reality, these posts include malicious links intended to steal consumers’ private information. As per the latest stats, about 38% of people reported making a purchase via links provided on a social media ad – which could lead them to a copied site of an original retailer or download malicious software onto their device.

Here are a few tips for identifying such scams:

  • Don’t purchase any item from a social media account without a blue checkmark
  • Check for typos and grammatical errors in the post, account titles, and other details.

For increased security, you should also consider connecting to a VPN while making online payments for your shopping spree. There are some reliable VPNs for Instagram and other platforms available. So, before you go on a shopping spree this Black Friday, make sure you have these guidelines in mind. Happy shopping!