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    November 22, 2023

    Black Friday – high season for online fraud

    Although we in Nemko's cyber security department are hopefully not the easiest victims of online fraud, we also receive our fair share of attempts, often in the form of emails. These vary from the completely amateurish and obvious to the highly professional. It is not only the design that has a professional appearance but also the timing and the targeted content that make these a real threat to many.
    As Black Friday and the extended Black Week approach, we are seeing an increase in phishing and other forms of online fraud. The coming days will bring many attractive offers, but they also give cybercriminals a golden opportunity to exploit unsuspecting consumers, especially those less accustomed to online shopping.

    The dangers can take many forms, from fake websites impersonating real dealers to phishing emails that appear to offer incredible deals. And after Black Friday, a new wave of attempted fraud may appear, this time targeting all those waiting for the delivery of their purchases.

    Perhaps the most common forms of fraud are:

    Phishing emails and text messages
    Scammers send emails or SMSes that appear to be from genuine retailers or delivery services. These messages often contain links to fake websites. The aim is to defraud unsuspecting customers who order goods, e.g. with payment cards. They can also offer deferred payment or payment by invoice, against which the customer provides the social security number. The latter could lead to ID theft.

    Fake websites

    Cybercriminals create websites that impersonate well-known retailers. These sites may offer unrealistic discounts to lure victims into giving up their card details. These websites can appear in Google searches and appear as advertisements - even on legitimate and serious websites!

    Social media 

    Social media, such as Facebook, is widely used for advertising, but it is also a favourite place for advertising –both for fake products and for outright scams.

    Delivery scams

    After Black Friday, scammers often send emails or texts pretending to be from delivery services, claiming there is a problem with the delivery of a package. They may ask for extra payment for a small amount, but if they get hold of the details on the payment card, they will drain it for as much as possible.

    QR codes 

    QR codes are a novelty on the fraud front and work mainly in the same way as a web link. The disadvantage is that a QR code cannot be read like a web link. The short advice is to avoid using QR codes if you receive them in an email, unless you can be completely sure of the sender.

    How can you be secure?

    Do not click on links in emails or SMS unless you are 100% sure they are from a safe sender. And if you follow the link, check again that you have come to the right page. If you receive an email with a good offer from a major outlet, and you are unsure whether it is the correct sender, go to their website instead. If the offer can not be found on these pages, the email is fake.

    The same applies to delivery fraud: If you receive a message about a delivery problem or an additional fee (e.g. customs), verify it directly through the retailer's or courier's official website or customer service.

    Shop from known and trusted dealers. If you are exploring new sites, research their credibility and read customer reviews.
    And a general piece of advice - keep your software up to date. So when your computer notifies you of a new update, accept it immediately - it's made for a reason!


    One last tip

    On Black Friday, as in the rest of the year, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is!

    But don't let the fraudsters take away your opportunities to enjoy good deals this week; just be careful - online as in the rest of society. And if it should feel too unsafe, fortunately, there are still physical stores.

    If you want to read more about what Nemko does to secure your everyday cyber life - see our cyber security pages

    Geir Hørthe

    Geir Hørthe is responsible for the Nemko cyber security initiative. He has worked at Nemko for more than 30 years, in the capacity of test services, lab manager of safety, ATEX and medical departments. He has also been Managing Director at the Nemko office in London for two years. After he returned to Norway, he held...

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