Black Friday 2020 promises to be somewhat different from years gone by thanks to COVID-19. The annual surge of in-store chaos and trolley dashes isn’t compatible with social distancing, and so retailers will be looking to drive shoppers online.

Friday 27th November is when things kick off this year, and yet some aspects will be radically different. If you intend to go to physical stores, then there’s a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.

Black Friday: Not spared from the lockdown

Some retailers are closing physical stores. Others are looking to extend how long their sales last, with the possibility of fewer sales in-store and more offered online to keep visitors to a minimum. One possible knock-on effect of so many online orders could be a delay in deliveries. Online shopping has increased as much as 75% already due to the pandemic, and Black Friday looms ominously in every retailer’s calendar.

Retailers are usually incredibly pleased about upcoming sales bumps. Now? It’s largely just the promise of in-store problems and offline capacity issues. While this may not concern the biggest retailers too much, small and medium businesses could well feel the pinch depending on what their 2020 Black Friday strategy is.

Sadly, this year’s sales bonanza comes with a possible increase in online scammers hunting for targets. Here are some ways you can beat the double threat of COVID-19 and internet scams this coming Black Friday.

Staying safe on Black Friday: Our tips

  1. Be suspicious of emails claiming to be from stores, especially if they ask for login details and/or supply you with links which look different to the URL you’re most familiar with. Spelling mistakes aren’t always a sign of a scam, but on the other hand, most businesses use proof-read templates, so errors are unusual. Similarly, HTTPS doesn’t mean the site is legitimate; only that data entered can’t be easily snooped by third parties. Pretty much anyone can get a free HTTPS certificate these days, so it’s not a sure-fire sign of legitimacy either way.
  2. Use a credit card if possible, as it’s generally the safer option online. Debit cards tied to your bank account are often more problematic when dealing with a scam situation—the money immediately leaves your account and it can be more difficult to get it back than with a credit card.
  3. Scammers may direct you to malware-laden sites or try to compromise legitimate sites in the run-up to Black Friday. Make sure your operating system is up to date, your security software is running the latest version, and you’ve got all the in-browser plugin protection you need before heading off to the virtual shopping races.
  4. Watch out for shortened links on social media, as they may be hiding nasty surprises.
  5. Don’t fall for “retweet/share to win a prize” tricks. Any giveaway is a tempting prospect but you’ll want to ensure the account running the promotion is legit. Do they have a verified presence on the social media platform? If not, how familiar with the account are you generally? Social etiquette top tip: some of your audience won’t like lots of competitions and raffles dropped into their curated timelines. Do them and yourself a favour, consider running a standalone account just for competitions. They’ll appreciate you not spamming their feed, and if you do end up retweeting something bad, you’ll be massively reducing its reach.

Further resources for keeping yourself secure

Here’s some blogs you may find useful to help with the above tips.

Shop safely in 2020

As has been mentioned, this year’s Black Friday is going to be a bit of an odd one. If you’d rather not venture out into possible crowds, or be stuck in very long distanced lines, that’s great. Stay home and reduce the potential COVID-19 risk. However, you’ll need to ensure your online security is similarly precaution filled. If your devices need a general spring cleaning to get things where they need to be security-wise, this could be the perfect moment to make a start.

Our very own Black Friday discount

It would be remiss in an article about safely shopping on Black Friday, not to mention that Malwarebytes is offering a Black Friday discount itself. You can save 50% on Malwarebytes Premium and 40% on Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy.

Whatever you do this Black Friday, we wish you safe and secure shopping for both Black Friday and beyond.