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6 security tips for safeguarding your bargain-hunting this Black Friday

Ulster Bank is urging online shoppers to stay alert and informed when browsing for deals this Black Friday.

Black Friday is fast approaching and customers are gearing up for the global shopping event, taking place next week (29 November).

To help you stay as safe and secure as possible when shopping online, Ulster Bank has published tips from its new Black Friday Fraud Survey. According to the bank, “when a Black Friday online bargain sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. 

Results from the report, which surveyed more than 1,000 adults, suggested that consumers’ confidence in their ability to stay safe from online scams and frauds is frequently not matched by their online shopping behaviour. This is a pressing fact, given the finding that more than half of Irish online shoppers plan to spend either the same or more in this year’s sales.

More than three-quarters of respondents to the survey said they have taken all the necessary precautions to carry out their online shopping in safety this year, but 23pc admitted to taking a chance on a suspicious link if it advertised a promising bargain. Furthermore, one in 10 adults who shop online claim to have shared their online banking security details with someone, either verbally or online.

To help educate and inform people about staying safe from scams this year, Ulster Bank has published six useful tips to consider when hunting down Black Friday bargains:

  1. Be vigilant. Just because someone knows basic personal details about you (such as names and addresses or even a mother’s maiden name), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Listen to your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, take a moment to stop and think things over.
  2. Aways follow your bank’s security advice and never provide remote access to your device when asked to do so following a cold call 
  3. Be cautious with what you disclose on social media and take precautions to ensure that your profile is private and only viewable to people you know
  4. Keep your mobile devices’ operating systems up to date to ensure that you have the latest security patches and upgrades 
  5. A genuine call from a bank or organisation will never ask you to transfer money to a safe account for any reasons 
  6. A bank will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your full PIN or password. Stay in control and have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information. Your bank will never ask you to disclose card reader codes over the phone under any circumstances. 

Emotional decisions

The bank partnered with cyberpsychologist Dr Ciarán Mc Mahon to help spot the danger signs of a scam and shop safely online. 

Commenting on the survey results, he said: “The Black Friday phenomenon is all about the chance to bag a bargain before a deadline. However, academic research shows that when faced with time pressures, we often make decisions that are more emotional and less analytical. Scammers are hoping that we will drop our guard so let’s make it as difficult as possible for them. 

“Similarly, academic research indicates that many people mistakenly assess their abilities as significantly better than they actually are. This is reflected in the survey results, where a large majority of respondents feel they have taken enough precautions yet admit to engaging in risky behaviours. 

“Cybercrime is an increasingly sophisticated enterprise, but scammers have deadlines too. Consumers can slow them down by simply stopping to think: is this deal too good to be true?”

Ulster Bank’s community protection advisor, Denise Cusack, added: “It’s hugely positive that we’re seeing a majority of respondents saying that they would not be embarrassed to admit to have been scammed or defrauded. We’ll all become safer and more knowledgeable when people are comfortable in talking about their experiences with scams.”

Credit: Lisa Ardill, Silicon Republic

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