Black Friday: tips to help you shop safely

Black Friday – the annual retail shopping spectacular – is nearly upon us. This year’s big event, which is held on 25th November, could be the biggest day of spending the world has ever seen.

As an online retailer we can’t help but be interested in the frenzy which descends across the world as people try to get their best-ever bargain. We’re also great supporters of shopping from the comfort of your sofa (we’ve seen those ‘Black Friday mall mayhem’ videos). In fact, last year more US and UK shoppers than ever shunned queuing and instead, migrated online. Welcome, Black Friday’s quieter sibling: ‘Cyber Monday’. But how did these yearly shopping events come about?

Black Friday and less commonly known Cyber Monday came about because is the US, many people would take the day after Thanksgiving off to enjoy the long holiday weekend. As traditionally the slow autumn months were bad for retailers (and came up to the financial year-end reporting deadline), retailers cut prices to entice consumers into stores. Black Friday was born to help get stores financially ‘out of the red’ and ‘into the black’. On Monday, when office workers had returned to their desks, retailers noticed the shopping trend continued online – hence the term ‘Cyber Monday’.

If you're planning on making the most of next month's sales, keep these tips in mind when shopping online:

1. Stick to using trusted websites
When you’re at the shopping cart take a look at its URL. It should start https:// (instead of http://). This additional ‘s’ means the data you enter is being passed via a secure server, so it’s safe to continue.

2. Be prepared 
Even if you don’t browse dodgy-looking websites, download files from suspicious places or open links in phishing emails you will benefit from running a tool to protect your PC against viruses, malware and spyware. Light versions of the best antivirus software out there (by Avast or AVG, for example) are completely free and perfectly adequate. Av-test compares the options for you.

3. Protect your web browsing privacy
Delete your passwords, cookies and other temporary internet files to keep where you've been and the details you’ve entered, confidential (this is especially important if you are using a shared PC). Doing this will also stop pesky advertisers ‘following’ you around with ads. CCleaner does this job for you.  

4. Pick a good password
All good websites will force you to use a combination of upper and lower case letters with numbers or symbols too. Change your password regularly and don’t use the same password across multiple sites! A good password manager (like LastPass, for example, which is free) will make your online life much easier to manage.

5. Be wary with the details you share (and where you share them)
Naturally, you might want to check your bank before a Black Friday splurge. When you do this, watch out for any changes to your online banking homepage and access it using a trusted computer or device. Your bank or any reputable retailer will never email you to ask for your password, login or bank account details. Likewise, you should never enter personal details into a pop-up screen. 

Give it a go
You can download CCleaner here or if you fancy a few more features, start your free CCleaner Professional trial.

If you have any comments please tweet us! We're @Piriform.

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