How to avoid being duped in Black Friday stampede

As shoppers are expected to flock to various retail outlets on Black Frday, fraudsters will be out on the prowl to cash in on unsuspecting consumers. / ESA ALEXANDER
As shoppers are expected to flock to various retail outlets on Black Frday, fraudsters will be out on the prowl to cash in on unsuspecting consumers. / ESA ALEXANDER

Thugs, retail shops and cyber criminals are all geared-up for the Black Friday and the target is the consumer with their fat bonuses.

It is the silly season indeed as some retailers are now offering data which would be paid for in February.

Those who offer online sales are also encouraging consumers to avoid queues and use their mobile phones to purchase their goods.

It looks like a tug-of-war as the the National Credit Regulator (NCR) is worried about consumers' spending habits.

Jimmy Golele, of education and communication at the NCR, said if you did not budget for Black Friday this year, don't be tempted because buying on impulse may cause you to have a bad credit record.

Golele said out of 245 million credit active consumers, 61.1% are in good standing, with 9.6% of them having an impaired record.

He said by preparing a budget, a consumer can prevent the stress of arriving home with items that they do not really need.

"Credit needs to be paid back with interest fees. It costs more to pay by credit than cash." Golele said.

He advises those who want buy on cash to prioritise needs such bond, rent, transport, groceries and school fees before splurging on Black Friday.

The Black Friday fever has almost every one on tenterhooks and companies like F5 Networks and African Bank are worried that both consumers and retailers could be victims of cyber crime.

Simon McCullough, of F5 Networks, said the high volume of purchases puts the retailers and consumer at risk of cyber security fraud and loss of critical information.

"This information can be hooked into real-time fraud database to cross-reference known fraud data such as flagged delivery address mobile numbers, as well as highlighting inconsistencies in sales transactions," McCullough said.

He said to help detect fraudulent activities, retailers should ensure that they gather enough transactional data, or its validity in the case of fraud.

"Tactics such as using e-signature or voice verification can keep high-values transactions secure," McCullough said.

Penny Futter, a chief information officer at African Bank, said some consumers become victims of phishing.

Phishing is when criminals use a form of electronic communication to extract sensitive information such as user names, passwords and credit card details. It is fast becoming one of the leading contributors of fraud.

"Unsuspecting customers believe they are speaking to a credible source from their bank and disclose sensitive information, often under the pretence of a 'security protocol',"
said Futter.

"Once a criminal has your mobile banking pin or password, a fraudulent sim swop is conducted on the cell phone number and that allows them to transact."

She said as online shopping continues to grow, we should be cautious when shopping online.

"Only use vendors who offer a second form of identification to avoid being scammed.

"You may even consider opening a separate bank account for online transactions and keep only a minimum balance in the account topping it up when funds are needed." said Futter.

She said if you suspect your information has been compromised, change your internet banking credentials immediately and contact your bank accordingly.

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