Here’s what to look for before crashing through a retailer’s virtual doors on Black Friday.
7 Black Friday Shopping Scams and How to Avoid Them
For decades, it’s been a tradition for bargain-hunting shoppers to squeeze ahead of one another to be first through retail store doors when they open on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. In 2020, Black Friday on November 27 is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days in the U.S., according to ShopperTrak and SensorMatic, providers of consumer analytics.
This year, however, a spike in COVID-19 cases, along with mask mandates, restrictions on the number of customers allowed in stores and greater reliance on the convenience and safety of online shopping means millions of Americans will be online first thing Black Friday morning to score a good deal.
Around 65% of Americans plan to do their holiday shopping online this year, up from 56% in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. That means scammers will likely be out in full force, eager to steal your identity, credit card information or make fraudulent purchases under your name.
Click or swipe for common Black Friday holiday shopping scams and how to avoid them.
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1. Watch out for non-delivery scams
One of the most common online holiday shopping rip-offs is the “non-delivery” scam, according to the FBI. In 2018, non-delivery scams – combined with “non-payment” scams where a buyer fails to pay the seller for shipped goods – accounted for nearly $184 million in losses and affected more than 65,000 victims.
The FBI recommends ensuring that you always get a tracking number for any items purchased online. That way, you can ensure they were shipped and keep an eye on the delivery progress.
2. Research sketchy retailers
If you’re ready to hit “add to cart” on a fantastic deal from a retailer you’ve never heard of, it’s a good idea to hold off on that purchase until you perform online research on the seller’s legitimacy, advises Norton, a security software and services company.
If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, always check their feedback rating, warns the FBI. “Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all.”
3. Review the retailer’s site closely
Make sure the retailer’s website looks professional and displays the retailer’s physical address and telephone contact number. Red flags of sketchy retailers include poorly designed sites that take forever to load and are dotted with typos and misspelled words, according to Norton.
“Only buy from secure sites with SSL encryption, with URLs starting with https (rather than http), and a lock icon in the corner,” advises Norton.
4. Avoid evasive auctioneers
Beware of sellers who post an auction advertisement, appearing to be a resident of the U.S. but then claiming to be out of the country for business or a family emergency when you have questions, warns the FBI. Also stay away from sellers posting an auction or advertisement under one name but then insisting that you send payment to someone else.
5. Hang on to your gift cards
Another online holiday shopping scam, often related with auction sites, is when a seller insists that you buy a prepaid gift card from a major retailer such as Amazon, Walmart or iTunes and then use the gift card to make your purchase.
Once you provide the seller with the gift card number and PIN, the scammer immediately has access to your money and can use it in whatever scammy way he or she pleases, since a gift card usually can’t be traced. That means you can’t get your money back.
“Gift cards are for gifts, not payments,” says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer.”
6. Never wire money
The FBI recommends canceling your purchase if the seller demands payment directly with a bank-to-bank wire transfer or via a money transfer company. Anyone that asks you to pay this way could be a scammer. Your safest bet for online Black Friday purchases: Always pay with a credit card.
7. Don’t respond to cryptic messages
If you get an email telling you there’s a problem with or question about an item you ordered but you don’t recognize the purchase, beware. According to Norton, the message could be a tricky phishing email that asks you for sensitive, personal information such as your credit card or bank account numbers after you click on the link.
Published by Debt.com, LLC