Top tips for safer shopping this Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Black Friday has now become one of the busiest shopping days of the year, both in store and online. Many stores run their Black Friday deals through the weekend and into Cyber Monday.

Often, in the rush to grab the best deal consumers are more liable to let their guard down. For this reason we have outlined some guidelines to safer shopping.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday retailers' resolutions

For businesses

  1. Guarantee security: Give consumers confidence by guaranteeing security of data when entering personal details. Symbols such as the Secure Digital Transactions Kitemark or the closed padlock symbol are looked for by consumers as confirmation of that site’s security when making online purchases.
  2. Transparency: Be transparent with customers about the personal data you collect and why you are collecting it. Transparency helps to establish a sense of trust with consumers and demonstrates that you take data protection seriously. 
  3. Avoid sharing data with third parties: One of consumers' major bugbears with online retailers is having their details shared with third parties. Consumers need to actively "opt-in" to receive third party information and given a clear, distinct choice about the medium for contact e.g. phone, email, etc.
  4. Don’t sell on data: In addition to restricting third party marketing materials, ensure that consumers can be confident that their data will not be sold on without express permission. Be aware in some cases this may be an offence.
  5. Complaints: Make sure that you have a defined policy and process in place for dealing with any consumer issue relating to the processing of their personal data.
  6. Keep hardware up to date: Ensure legacy IT equipment and systems are patched and updated to a secure standard.
  7. Use the latest software: Ensure software running on computers and network devices is kept up-to-date.
  8. Ensure your staff know how to keep data safe: Set up an internal information security policy to follow and appropriate staff training.
  9. Install anti-virus software: Protect yourself when online and from mobile devices with comprehensive anti-virus software.
  10. Control employee access: Keep records of users’ access to applications, computers and networks.
  11. Use secure cloud based services with care: The cheapest cloud storage services aren’t always the most secure – ensure that any cloud storing personal or confidential information has appropriate security measures in place.
  12. Regularly refresh passwords: Change passwords regularly to avoid hacking of personal data or misuse by rogue employees.

Guide to safer shopping this Black Friday/Cyber Monday

For consumers

  1. Share only basic data: When buying products online, only share the information needed to complete the purchase. Avoid giving your bank details away where possible or linking to your bank account details with payment tools.
  2. Transparency obligations: If you have any concerns about your personal data, you should read the company’s privacy notice. Company’s are obliged to provide you with this notice at the point of data collection. This notice should outline how the company processes your data, who they share it with, how you can exercise your rights and who you can contact at the company if you have any queries about personal data.
  3. Stick to trusted websites: Always shop around for the retailers with the best reputations. Symbols such as the closed padlock symbol at checkout guarantee that the retailer meets industry-required security standards. The padlock symbol on your web browser’s address bar and URL addresses that begin with ‘https’ also indicate secure sites and that your data is encrypted.
  4. Beware of phishing scams: Be wary of emails asking for your personal details, even if they appear to come from your bank or service provider. If you’re unsure, check with the real business first.
  5. Use your card but don’t let the site store your details: The fewer sites that have your data on file, the better. The easiest way to do this is to untick the ‘Don’t store my card details’ option at checkout. Other tools such as MasterPass and 3D Secure can also help keep your data secure.
  6. Keep software updated: Do regular checks for upgrades to your operating system or software updates and install these. Making sure you have the latest patches for anti-spyware and anti-virus programs are also a must, as these will ensure nobody can track your internet use or infect your device.
  7. Beware of public computers and public Wi-Fi: When using a public computer, always log out and close the browser when you’re finished. If you’re given the option of free Wi-Fi, avoid giving personal or payment information and choose to browse using the ‘Public browsing’ setting where available.
  8. Be cautious in responding to emails: Think twice before responding to an email from someone you don’t recognize or an email that seems out of character. These are common phishing tactics, so if unsure then do not respond or click links in the email.
  9. Diligent downloading: Only download from sites you know and trust and ensure that you have the highest levels of security on your downloads, to prevent any malware accessing your computer whilst browsing.
  10. Keep records: Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for unusual activity. This could indicate that your account has been hacked and would require to you to contact your provider to have your details changed. Always keep electronic receipts as backup.
  11. Always look for the tick box: Many companies may automatically try to opt you in to receiving marketing emails, newsletters or to pass on your details to third parties. If you don't want this, make sure you untick or tick the relevant box during the buying process.

Following these tips will help you be more vigilant when shopping online, not only during Black Friday and Cyber Monday but throughout the year. 

Additional resources