Online scams spiked during Black Friday

Experts recommend double-checking discounts.

Online shopping, illustrative stock photo.Online shopping, illustrative stock photo. (Source: Wilfredo Lee)

The season of sales, which is connected to the Black Friday shopping holiday, is not only attractive for shoppers and vendors, but also for cybercriminals, who won’t hesitate to earn an extra buck by creating fake websites reminiscent of larger retail platforms and payment systems.

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The number of spam messages increased

In the season before the Black Friday shopping holiday, the Kapersky corporation reported an increase in phishing attacks mimicking pages with e-payment systems.

The overall amount of financial phishing attacks masked as e-payment systems has, according to the corporation, more than tripled in the period from September to October 20201.

Though shops in 2021, recovering from a difficult 18 months with customers returning to offline shopping, Kaspersky researchers did not see typical seasonal phishing trends related to online shopping, like a significant influx of phishing sites with very generous sales offers or an increase in retail fraud. The number of spam messages also increased.

“In the interest of protecting your data and finances, it is important to always make sure that the webpage on which you are making an online transaction is secure. You can tell this by making sure the URL address of a webpage lines up with the website name and that the link to the page starts with HTTPS and not HTTP, and that a lock icon is visible next to the page link,” the general director of Kapersky for eastern Europe Miroslav Kořen said as quoted by the SITA newswire.

A marketing move, more than anything else

Black Friday is an event that the world adopted from the USA, falling on the fourth Friday of November. This event kicks off the shopping fever leading up to Christmas.

“They say that Black Friday came about as a marketing move so that vendors increase sales since the season tends to be quite unsatisfactory in sales. During Black Friday, vendors all around the world offer large discounts, for which people stand in line for hours before a shop opens. This season means breaking even for many businesses,” SITA quoted FinGO.sk investment analyst František Burda as saying.

The shopping assistance service Heureka.sk concurs with this assessment.

“That is why it is important to check the resulting prices with merchants. When deciding on a purchase it is important to keep in mind that product prices are increased before the discount, or that discounts are a factor of prices that were never on offer,” director of Heureka.sk, Jan Mayer, stated.

Lower discounts

Slovak Black Friday is different from its American cousin, Burda opined. For one, merchants start promoting it very early, practically from the start of November.

“The discounts, with several exceptions, of course, aren’t as high as one would expect as well,” Burda stated.

This year's pre-Christmas sales could be, according to Heureka.sk, marked by lower discounts.

“This year’s sales will certainly also reflect a shortage of components from the smart products section, missing containers, a significant increase in prices for transport and an increase in waiting times. We don’t expect significantly higher discounts, but rather a more limited offer and a lower number of products on sale,” Mayer concluded.

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