Black Friday 2015 is here, and while you might have been waiting for the bargaining season to finally hit its stride, you will do well to acquaint yourself with the kinds of scams that are doing the rounds, both on and off the internet.
As you can imagine, over the years Black Friday has tended not only to become a great time for shoppers but also for fraudsters looking to dupe you out of your hard-earned money. From faux online stores to fake gift cards, from online phishing to suspicious deliveries, every year scammers look for more innovative ways to keep their business going.
Not surprisingly, then, there would hardly be any major transaction sites during Black Friday, 2015, which would escape the ever watchful gaze of the scammer. These are the things you should be careful about while shopping this holiday season, even if you have managed to evade scams so far.
Fake Delivery Notices
A major chunk of the Black Friday sales takes place on the internet, and scammers are the first to know it.
According to USA Today, fake delivery confirmations remain one of the biggest weapons in the scammer’s armory. Over the years, fraudsters have been known to send out fake emails allegedly confirming the delivery of purchased products. Shoppers who have already bought things online and are waiting for their delivery confirmations are most prone to these kinds of snide scams. As it turns out, finding your email or social media accounts is a cakewalk for most scammers (think of Anonymous’ leaks — scammers hack into accounts in pretty much the same way).
These emails are filled with phishing links and virus-filled downloads. So trust your instinct and do not open delivery confirmations unless you are absolutely certain that it is from the retailer from where you purchased the product. Moreover, you should go directly to the store’s website, log into your account, and check your order status there. That could save you a world of trouble this Black Friday.
2015 will also see scammers apply some other methods, which I have discussed below.
Online phishing is, again, one of the best ways scammers have to intrude into your shopping habit. Potential Black Friday shoppers have been known to receive bogus links and fake ads on their emails, social media news feeds, and even their phones. Cyber experts have warned shoppers that authentic-looking text messages may be sent to your phone, but more often than not, those messages will turn out to be fake.
Another ingenious way scammers dupe people is by calling them and telling them that their financial accounts have been breached, or that they suspect some untoward activity. You will be asked to call a bogus number, where callers will ask you to share sensitive information linked to your financial accounts. One of the things you should definitely not do is share anything which could help them gain access to your money during the Black Friday holiday season.
If you receive such a notice, you should directly call your bank or credit card company so that you know whether the information passed on to you was legitimate.
Faux Online Stores
“Beware of pop-up shops that show up around the holidays, as these stores can disappear before you know it.”
This is the warning Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing marketplace trust, gave to Black Friday shoppers last year.
Like most of the previous years, 2015 will see a proliferation of online stores that disappear before the month is up. Owning sleek websites and boasting jaw-dropping discounts on your favorite products, these pop-up shops will try to lure you into buying phony products, so make no purchases on websites you have never heard of.
One such website is even known to sell counterfeit products, with Beats headphones being sold to consumers for as low as $10.
The best way to counteract this scam is to buy only from the official websites of well-known and well-established stores. In case you are in doubt, you should read reviews before placing an order.
These are some of the most common ways scammers will try to take your money during Black Friday 2015, according to industry experts. Other potential scams could include selling gimmick gift cards, which could turn out to be completely bogus, or hidden charges, where retailers might ask you pay an amount upfront to have access to their discounted stores.
While some big-name retailers also employ the latter tactics, which is not generally scamming in the real sense, but you should avoid paying for things you haven’t bought during Black Friday.
Now that you know what to guard against, you can buckle up and prepare for some shopping, because Black Friday 2015 is finally here!
[Image via Vanderelbe.de/Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 License]