Safeguarding Against Cyber Scams During Holiday Sales

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In the ever-expanding realm of online shopping, an alarming statistic has emerged: approximately 34 million Americans have fallen prey to scams on the popular shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With the advent of the holiday season, marked by the biggest sales of the year, it becomes imperative to equip oneself with the knowledge and tools to shop online securely.

A recent survey conducted by NordVPN reveals a disconcerting trend – nearly 40% of Americans have encountered online shopping scams, a notable increase of 3% from the previous year. 

Delving deeper into the data, it becomes apparent that every fourth American who has been scammed during their shopping exploits has experienced it specifically on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, underscoring the significance of these days as prime targets for cyber scammers.

Stakes Are Higher Than Ever

As Cyber Monday unfolds, the stakes are higher than ever, with cybercriminals setting their sights on a staggering 48% of Americans who plan to partake in the event, marking a 5% increase from the previous year. Additionally, 35% of potential shoppers are yet to decide whether they will join the online shopping frenzy. 

Adrianus Warmenhoven, a cybersecurity expert at NordVPN, issues a cautionary note, stating, “We have seen in the past that cybercriminals become very active during the shopping season, so 160 million Americans who plan to take advantage of the deals this year should better be on guard.”

One concerning revelation from the survey is that a significant portion of Americans, 87% to be precise, are willing to divulge some level of personal data in exchange for a bonus gift, discount, or free service. This figure remains consistent with the previous year’s findings. For those who have previously fallen victim to online shopping scams, the willingness to share personal information jumps to nearly 89%. 

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Statistics from NordVPN

The survey identifies that 5% of American online shoppers would disclose their credit card details, 2% their social security number, and 12% their place of employment. Astonishingly, 4% would even reveal their children’s names in pursuit of an extra bargain.

Strategies for Protection

To counteract the rising tide of online scams, experts recommend several strategies to protect oneself during the holiday shopping spree. First and foremost, consumers are advised to only provide the necessary information for a transaction on legitimate websites. 

Verifying the website’s URL is crucial, as even a small variation could lead unsuspecting shoppers to malicious websites designed by scammers. The dangers of shortened URLs in advertisements are highlighted, with consumers urged to manually check the company’s site to avoid potential scams.

Public Wi-Fi, a common convenience for online shoppers, is flagged as a security risk, as it is often susceptible to hacking attempts. The use of virtual private networks (VPNs) is recommended to encrypt connections and safeguard sensitive data. Tools like NordVPN’s Threat Protection are also highlighted as effective measures to identify suspicious websites and protect users from falling victim to scams.

Additionally, consumers are encouraged to monitor their bank statements diligently. Adrianus Warmenhoven suggests an extra layer of security through the use of virtual credit cards, allowing individuals to shop online without exposing their actual credit card details.

Staying Vigilant

As the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, the importance of staying vigilant and adopting cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated. The survey by NordVPN serves as a stark reminder of the prevalent threats in the digital shopping landscape, urging consumers to be proactive in protecting their personal information and financial well-being. 

By arming themselves with knowledge and employing recommended safeguards, shoppers can navigate the online marketplace with confidence, ensuring a secure and enjoyable shopping experience during the holiday season.