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Fact Check Friday: Black Friday Edition

Posted at 8:26 AM, Nov 27, 2020

Cybercrime is nothing new, but with an increase in online shopping this year due to COVID-19 concerns, experts say there are more sharks in the water.

A recent survey from virus protection company McAfee found that more people are aware of the risks but still plan to shop online. McAfee said it is a perfect storm, where nearly 1 in 5 people reported they shop online daily, and the prevalence of cybercrime rose 12% in Q2 2020.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your hard-earned cash?

Use credit cards instead of debit cards. Many have fraud protection baked in and a thief will not get access to your full bank account.

Dr. Richard Harknett, Co-Director of the Ohio Cyber Range Institute, said you should also remember to protect yourself if you shop using your phone.

"The same security that you have on your computer, you really should have on your mobile device. What we know is that most people don't,” said Dr. Harknett.

According to the UK based Comparitech, “more than 5,000 probable scam and phishing sites were registered in November 2020."

Comparitech listed tips for shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Never click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails and messages
  • Shopping websites must have HTTPS – but note that many phishing sites have HTTPS as well
  • Check the spelling of website URLs and email domains for typos
  • Only buy from reputable vendors and marketplaces
  • A lack of contact information or terms of use is a strong sign that a site is a scam
  • Avoid clicking on shopping ads and posts on social media

If you have an idea for Fact Check Friday, or any questions, email adrian.whitsett@wcpo.com