How to Avoid Getting Scammed this Black Friday
Black Friday is one of the most anticipated shopping events of the year, but it also attracts scammers who want to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Here are some tips to help you avoid getting scammed this Black Friday and enjoy a safe and rewarding shopping experience.
Do your research. Before you buy anything, compare prices and reviews from different sources. Don’t fall for fake deals that seem too good to be true. Check the seller’s reputation and customer service policies. Look for signs of legitimacy, such as secure payment methods, clear return policies, and contact information.
Beware of phishing emails and texts. Scammers may send you emails or texts that look like they come from legitimate retailers or delivery companies, but they are actually designed to trick you into clicking on malicious links or attachments. These links or attachments may infect your device with malware, steal your personal information, or redirect you to fake websites that ask for your credit card details. To avoid phishing, never click on links or attachments from unknown or suspicious sources. Instead, type the website address directly into your browser or use a trusted app.
Use a credit card or a payment service. When you pay for your purchases, use a credit card or a payment service like PayPal or Apple Pay. These methods offer more protection than debit cards or cash, as they allow you to dispute fraudulent charges and limit your liability in case of identity theft. Avoid using wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, as these are often used by scammers and are hard to trace or recover.
Monitor your accounts and statements. After you make your purchases, keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit card statements for any unauthorized or suspicious transactions. If you notice anything unusual, report it to your bank or card issuer immediately. You should also check your credit reports regularly for any signs of identity theft, such as new accounts or inquiries that you did not initiate.
Report any scams or frauds. If you encounter any scams or frauds while shopping online, report them to the appropriate authorities. You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), or your state attorney general’s office. You can also warn other consumers by posting reviews or ratings on websites like Trustpilot or Scamwatch.
Shop from reputable websites. Stick to well-known and trusted online retailers when making your Black Friday purchases. Be cautious about unfamiliar websites that offer incredible deals, especially if you’ve never heard of them before. Check for secure website connections, indicated by “https://” in the URL, and look for trust seals from recognized security providers.
Be cautious with personal information. Avoid sharing unnecessary personal information, such as your Social Security number or excessively detailed contact details, unless it’s absolutely required for the transaction. Legitimate retailers typically don’t ask for sensitive information unless you’re making a significant purchase.
Keep software and devices updated. Ensure that your computer, smartphone, and other devices have the latest security updates and antivirus software installed. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to launch attacks. Regularly update your operating system, browsers, and security software to protect against potential threats.
Use strong, unique passwords. Create strong and unique passwords for your online shopping accounts to enhance security. Avoid using the same password across multiple websites. Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely.
Be skeptical of pop-up ads and unsolicited emails. Cybercriminals may use pop-up ads or unsolicited emails to lure shoppers into fake websites or phishing scams. Avoid clicking on pop-ups, and don’t open emails from unknown senders. Legitimate retailers generally communicate through their official websites or trusted communication channels.
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Wherever possible, enable 2FA for your online shopping accounts. This additional layer of security helps protect your accounts even if your password is compromised.
Trust your instincts. If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts and proceed with caution. Scammers often use urgency and enticing offers to pressure consumers into making impulsive decisions. Take your time to verify the legitimacy of the deal and the credibility of the seller.
Utilize secure Wi-Fi networks. When making online purchases, ensure that you are connected to a secure Wi-Fi network. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for transactions, as these networks may be less secure and more susceptible to hacking attempts. If you must shop while on the go, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your connection and add an extra layer of security.
Check for website authenticity. Before entering any payment information, double-check that you are on the official website of the retailer. Scammers often create fake websites that closely mimic legitimate ones. Look for subtle differences in the URL, misspellings, or inconsistencies in the design. Always start your online shopping journey by typing the retailer’s web address directly into your browser.
Be cautious with social media promotions. While many legitimate promotions and deals are shared on social media platforms, scammers also take advantage of these channels to promote fraudulent offers. Verify the authenticity of the promotion by visiting the retailer’s official website rather than clicking on links directly from social media posts.
Educate yourself about common scams. Stay informed about the latest scams and techniques used by cybercriminals. Being aware of common tactics, such as fake websites, phishing emails, or counterfeit products, empowers you to recognize and avoid potential threats.
Consider using a dedicated credit card for online purchases. To add an extra layer of protection, consider using a dedicated credit card exclusively for online transactions. This can help isolate potential fraud and minimize the impact on your primary financial accounts.
Be wary of too-good-to-be-true offers. Scammers often use overly generous offers to lure in unsuspecting shoppers. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust reputable retailers and exercise caution when encountering promotions that appear excessively enticing.
Keep your devices secure. Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software on your devices to protect against potential threats. Regularly scan your devices for malware and perform security updates promptly.
Stay informed about recalls. If you are purchasing electronics, toys, or other products, stay informed about product recalls. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website or other relevant authorities in your region to ensure that the products you are buying meet safety standards.
By staying vigilant and following these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to scams during the Black Friday shopping season. Remember to prioritize security and make informed decisions to ensure a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.