How to stay safe while Black Friday bargain hunting

The key to safe shopping this Black Friday is to stay vigilant and watch your credit card, says Marius Coetzee, CEO of biometrics company Ideco.

"When you hand over your physical credit card, it is very easy for fraudsters to 'skim' the card by presenting it to a card reader at the bottom of the point of sale device."

This information can be shared across a syndicate within minutes, and by the time the victim becomes aware of the problem, their account could have been drained.

Coetzee suggests keeping an eye on your card throughout the transaction.

Guard your identity

While reputable online retailers go to great lengths to ensure a secure environment for transactions, there are some potential risks in buying online or over the phone, cautions Coetzee.

"Remember, your personal information is the key to accessing your home and your bank account, so you have to be cautious about who you share it with," he says.

"If you initiate the process by going to a reputable online retailer's website or calling a company's contact centre, you know who you're engaging with. Whereas if you click on a link you've been sent via email to start shopping, or you share personal information with someone who calls you on the phone, you have no way of knowing for sure who you are giving your information to."

Coetzee suggests it is safest not to answer questions from people pushing a sales effort to you. Rather ask them to confirm the information they have about you. If they don't have your details, be careful of confirming your personal identity information.

"It's commonly accepted that when you drop your guard is when fraudsters will strike. So, on Black Friday, when everyone is distracted in the rush to grab the best deal, you need to exercise caution and guard your information," concludes Coetzee.

Losing focus

Charnel Hattingh, national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT, agrees with Coetzee that it is very easy to lose focus on Black Friday.

"When a deal sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is. Please be aware of any scams that there might be during the Black Friday weekend," warns Hattingh.

"Be aware of your surroundings when doing your shopping. Criminals might be on the lookout for vulnerable members of the public caught up in the excitement of it all. This could lead to easy pickings for pick-pockets."

Hattingh suggests consumers avoid taking their children to busy malls if possible.

"If you can't leave them at home, please ensure that they are with you and in sight at all times. Also ensure that your vehicle is locked and secured before leaving a busy mall's parking area. The frantically busy weekend is ideal for opportunistic criminal activity such as remote jamming," suggests Hattingh.

"Avoid leaving newly purchased items in visible areas in your vehicle and ensure that you refrain from leaving electronic item boxes in visible areas in your yard as this will draw unwanted attention."

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