Are you prepared for the official start of Christmas shopping season? Will you be starting your Xmas shopping on Black Friday? If you can’t resist a bargain, and can’t wait until Cyber Monday, take care! There are many fake Black Friday deals being advertised and you may end up becoming a victim of an online scam.

Fake Black Friday deals aplenty

Black Friday follows Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and it officially marks the first day of the Christmas shopping season. It is also a day when online criminals try to take advantage of Christmas shoppers. There will be plenty of genuine bargains, as Black Friday discounts are offered by most major retailers. Unfortunately for shoppers, there are plenty of fake Black Friday deals being advertised online. Picking out the real deals from the fake ones is not quite as easy as it used to be. Scammers are getting good at creating highly realistic offers and fake websites. Furthermore, scammers are getting sneaky and have launched fake Android Apps, and are now sending texts containing phishing links and fake phone lines.

Fake Amazon app will steal your passwords, make calls, and send texts

One of the scams already being sent offers a golden opportunity: The chance to beat the online crowds and grab a bargain before everyone else. Download this app and you will get to the front of the virtual queue and get all the Amazon Black Friday deals, days early.

Instead of launching an Amazon app when you start it, after downloading the fake Amazon app it will launch an app called If you grant permission, as many people who download the app will, you give the app permission to view virtually everything on your phone, make calls, send texts, and see the data you enter via your phone. Deleting the app will make no difference. To avoid this scam and others like it, only download apps from Google Play store; never from third party sites.

Beware of texts warning of suspicious account activity

Scammers may love email to deliver phishing links and malware-ridden attachments via email, but some are now resorting to text messages. Texts are sent warning of a security breach, account hack, or other need to call a support line. The number provided will be answered by a scammer who will attempt to relieve you of your credit card information or bank account details, or will attempt to gather information that can be used in a future phishing attack.

Fake stores offering fake Black Friday deals

Social media websites advertise amazing discounts and many fake Black Friday deals. Spam emails are sent in the millions with fantastic “too good to be true” offers. Many of these are fake Black Friday deals designed to get you to part with your credit card number. When browsing the Internet, you may have pop-up adverts appear with links to these websites or they may appear in Ad blocks on legitimate websites.

Some of these adverts will direct you to online stores that you may never have heard of; yet the discounts do tempt many visitors to make a purchase. Any goods ordered will not be received and credit cards will be charged repeatedly.

Before making any purchase, take a few minutes to verify the company’s identity, address, and location. Don’t be afraid to give the store a call. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Your order can’t be delivered

Next week you may receive an email telling you your order cannot be delivered. Your purchases are unlikely to be specified in the email, only a link to the delivery company’s website. You will be asked to make alternative arrangements to collect your order or provide an alternative date when you will be home.

The links direct users to phishing websites aimed at getting visitors to divulge sensitive information. Delivery receipts and invoices are also sent via email. These contain malware, and opening the files will see your computer compromised. Be especially wary of PDF files, JPEGs, ZIP, and EXE files. Many file attachments have the suffixes masked to fool users into opening them. They contain malware such as keyloggers, or will allow hackers to take control of your device.

Only make purchases from stores offering a secure HTTPS connection

To avoid phishing and other malicious websites, use your common sense. If a deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Before you make a purchase, check the website has a padlock next to the URL and the web address starts with HTTPS.

This is not a guarantee that the website is genuine, as security certificates can be faked. But it will give you a better idea if the website can be trusted. Also never make any purchase while connected to the Internet via an open Wi-Fi network. You never know who might be eavesdropping on your session.

If you want to protect against fake Black Friday deals, or keep your work network secure and free from malware, consider installing a web filtering solution. It will take the guesswork out of online purchases, and will block phishing websites, popups, and malicious adverts. Coupled with an anti-spam solution to catch malicious emails, you will be better protected from online scammers and cyberattacks.