With COVID-19 keeping stores closed and people at home all around the world, shoppers are anxiously waiting for the deals the next few weeks will bring during Singles’ Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday online sales.

A drastically growing number of consumers are getting their shopping done online at a staggering growth of 43% vs. only 16% last year in the US alone, enhancing the opportunities for cyber attackers to strike. During Single’s Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, cyberattacks have been extremely high in particular. Add the 400% increase in online scams since COVID-19 has started, and your risk this year alone is off the charts.

Here are the top signs of scams to watch out for during the November online shopping season:

1. If the site offers “too good to be true” discounts

If it’s looks too good to be true, it probably is. The newest iPhone will not sell for $200. Forget about it. We will cover what to do to find out whether it’s a real offer or not later in the article.

2. If the site URL and website looks a bit different

Fake sites mimicking popular shopping sites during the cyber shopping season, such as Alibaba and Amazon, are very common, and are hard to identify as fake. In 2015, more than 5,000 phishing sites in China alone targeting Singles’ Day shoppers were uncovered.The sites look so real, such as in this image:

3. If the site demands bizzare forms of payment

Such as money orders, wire-transfers, or pre-loaded money cards and vouchers.

4. If the site doesn’t have a return policy

5. If the seller is unknown

How to Avoid being Scammed this November Sales Season:

1. Don’t use unsecured Wi-Fi networks

Such as those present in coffee shops and other public places, as suspicious sites are easier to get through to you.

2. Search for security symbols, such as SSL

Search for a SSL certificate which ensures the safety of the site.

3. Use a “fake site” database to see if your site appears on it

For Black Friday for instance, dedicated sites such as blackfridayscom.tld and black-fridaywalmart.tld were created in order to help shoppers double check shopping sites.

4. Use secure payment methods

Search for validation icons (that are actually clickable, not just images).

5. Pay only by credit card or PayPal

Make sure not to ever make a direct bank transfer or buy a prepaid card or vouchers.

6. Identify the seller

Sites like WHOIS can provide information about the site owner and how long the domain has existed. If no contact details exist, do not proceed with the purchase.

7. Always look for a return policy

If it’s not apparent, it’s a good sign that the site is fake, as it’s a standard part of an e-commerce site.

8. Use a security software that includes an anti-phishing feature, such as ZoneAlarm’s Extreme Security

ZoneAlarm Exteme Security, which is now having a huge sale by the way, includes a Web-Secure Anti-phishing browser extension that protects your most sensitive information in real-time from creative hackers and their malicious sites, allowing you to shop safely and worry-free.

Keep this article as a guidelines when shopping this sales season! We hope you enjoyed it.

Happy shopping season!

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