Black Friday is the name given to the day after Thanksgiving, which traditionally is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, one in which retailers often lure shoppers with tremendous bargains. Criminals do the same thing. On the Dark Web, that part of the Internet used by criminals to buy, sell and lease a wide range of illegal goods and services, such as stolen credit card numbers and malware, the cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows announced recently that it found numerous Black Friday sales on these sites. Some sites offered reduced prices for the rental of botnets to be used to spread spear phishing and malware containing emails. Also among the services for sale were tutorials about how to perpetrate credit card fraud against particular retailers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Nike. In addition, vast numbers of stolen or hacked credit card numbers are being sold to use for purchases during Black Friday and the rest of the holiday season. For online fraudulent purchases, many criminals also purchase the addresses of empty homes to which the illegally purchased goods can be shipped and some websites even offer the services of “pickers,” other criminals who, for a fee, will retrieve the deliveries.


Whenever shopping in a brick and mortar store, you should use a credit card rather than a debit card because of the possibility of skimmers being used by criminals working as sales clerks who will take your credit card or debit card and swipe it through the skimmer, capturing your credit card number to use for themselves. Whenever possible you should use your chip credit card because it is not susceptible to skimmers, however, some retailers still have not switched to chip technology. As for using your credit card rather than your debit card, it is important to remember that while your liability for fraudulent use of your credit card is limited by federal law to no more than $50, your liability for fraudulent use of your debit card which is tied to a bank account is unlimited if you do not promptly discover and report the fraud.

Also, because of the many data breaches in which your credit card information may have been compromised, you should monitor your credit card statements online regularly rather than wait for your monthly statement to be sent to you by mail. The earlier you discover that your card has been fraudulently used, the easier it is to remedy the problem.

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