Black Friday Scams: What To Watch Out For This Holiday Shopping Season

Black Friday is all about getting the best deals. However, though some deals may be great, shoppers can easily fall victim to Black Friday scams.

Though the 2014 Black Friday shopping stampede hasn’t started just yet, that doesn’t mean scammers aren’t already targeting shoppers. In fact, as soon as Black Friday ads hit the web, scammers begin slowly picking at consumers. The best way to avoid scams is to remain vigilant and to learn from the past.

Many of the Black Friday scams come from technology. From fake coupons to malicious websites, scammers are more technologically savvy than ever. Norton notes that Black Friday scams can come from the web or even your phone. One common scam that can happen via your mobile phone is text phishing. Texting has become a common form of communication and is even used in the retail industry. Consumers can choose to receive “text alerts” from retailers that feature special promotions, deals and coupons. However, scammers also use this technology to scam unknowing consumers out of money.

Text Phishing

Text phishing is a relatively new scam that uses fake text messages that pretend to alert you that your savings or checking accounts may have been hit with illegal activity. Many shoppers are extra vigilant of their banking accounts during holiday shopping season, so scammers try to take advantage of the fear of credit card fraud. The scammer texts you and says that you need to call a given phone number immediately to reactivate and “secure” your account. That phone number, set up by the criminals, will attempt to capture your home address, Social Security number, and other information. At that point, your account will then be secured by the fraudsters and your account has now truly been hacked.

To avoid text phishing scams, always call your bank or credit card company directly to verify if fraudulent activity has been reported on your account. Never call a number from a text message. Same goes for retail credit cards. Your best bet is always to call the number on the back of your card or bank directly.

Email Deals And Malicious Websites

Email inboxes are also rife with Black Friday scams. From fake coupons to “too-good-to-be-true” advertisements, scammers get creative with deals set up to entice consumers into clicking links to malicious websites. These coupons may appear to be legit. However, when the unknowing shopper clicks the link, they are taken to a website designed to obtain credit card information and other personal data. The site may also download malware to your computer or other viruses.

To avoid malicious website attacks, do not click on coupons from websites that you are unfamiliar with. If you have never heard of the retailer, do some research before clicking the enticing coupon link. If the coupon is supposedly from a known retailer, go to the retailer’s main website first. If you do not see the promotion, call the customer service line to ensure that the deal is real. Also be sure to check the email sender. If the deal is real, the email will most likely come from an email address with the retailer’s web address included.

Misleading Ads

Lastly, look out for misleading ads. The Wall Street Journal did a report last year on deals that weren’t quite as good as retailers described. One example was Amazon’s sale on a Samsung 60-inch HDTV. The TV was advertised as being sold for a 45 percent discount. However, the discount was based on the retail price of $1799.99. However, when the Journal reported the listing that shows the TV was sold for $997.99 in October, it is not such a good deal. In fact, the consumer would be paying more for the television on Black Friday than they would had it been purchased in October.

Many of the “spectacular deals” on Black Friday are actually just stock from the previous year that has not been sold. These items can be found at deeply discounted prices throughout the year and not just on Black Friday. However, Black Friday is the perfect marketing tool for retailers to push products they need moved. Consumers think they are getting a great deal and retailers empty shelves of unwanted product.

How to avoid misleading ads? Do your research. Look up the specific brand, size and features of the items you plan to buy before heading to the store.

Are you prepared to avoid Black Friday scams this year?