How to Avoid Black Friday Scams This Holiday Season

Watch Out: How To Spot a Black Friday Scam

( – Black Friday deals can be a real godsend, but some are just too good to be true. We rely on Black Friday deals so we can afford holiday season presents for our families, or maybe this is the one time a year we can afford to make a purchase for our homes or ourselves.

However, because shopping ramps up this time of year, scammers are especially busy around this time. Scammers are looking to bank on our desire for a good deal, and take advantage of those who mean well by preying on our emotions. The elderly are especially susceptible to manipulation, but anyone can be a victim, especially as the technical sophistication of scammers continues to evolve.

It’s best to be aware of the tactics scammers use – before you’re on the receiving end of a scam yourself!

Going Phishing

Phishing is a very common tactic used by scammers, typically via email, to get you to share personal information. If you click on an illegitimate link that takes you to a site – usually a spoof of a more familiar service you are likely to trust, like a bank – and then enter your personal information, the scammer can sell your information to other criminals on the dark web, or just use it themselves to commit fraud.

Make sure you hover your mouse over a link in an email – if the URL is odd and does not match the URL of a familiar website, don’t click it! If a site has odd characters or numbers, navigate away. Always enter the URL of a bank or trusted website by typing it in yourself instead of trusting a link from an email, especially if you don’t recognize the sender.

Often, phishing emails spoof a trusted email origin as well. Sometimes, you can tell it is a spoof when examining the email address and name due to spelling errors.

Fraudulent Websites

Scammers often rely on fake websites to trick people. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is often used to copy and rebuild legitimate websites, so you can’t always tell a fake right away. Always check the URL in your web browser to make sure you are on the correct website and not a spoof.

Trust your gut! If you think something is fishy, weird, or off ….it probably is.

Card Skimmers

Card skimmers are a device added to card readers at gas stations, kiosks, ATM machines, and anywhere else credit cards are used to pay for items. They read your card information when you swipe or insert the card to pay for an item. They use this information to charge fraudulent purchases to your card later.

Always inspect the kiosk before paying with a card, and always check up on your card use history.

If you suspect fraud, you can call the number on the back of your card and contest the fraudulent charges. The bank will freeze your card so the scammer cannot use it anymore, refund you for the fraudulent charges, and send you a new card in the mail.

False USPS Alerts

“Due to an issue with your address, USPS was unable to deliver your package. Please enter your personal information to continue.” If you get a phone call or text like this, don’t panic! It’s a scam.

USPS will never ask you for personal information over a text. If you are not sure if the message is legitimate, you can call USPS or visit the post office yourself.

Unfortunately, this particular tactic works especially well around the holiday season because people are worried if gifts for their loved ones will arrive in time. Scammers are preying on that worry to defraud you!

The Fake Charity

Not all charities — even famous ones — are reputable.

More than 36% of charitable donations are made during the holiday season – and scammers are scheming for their cut. Fortunately, you can use an AARP and FTC recommended third-party site, like CharityWatch, to investigate if a charity is who they say they are. Do your homework before donating so you know where your money is going!

Avoid Black Friday Scams

There are a few ways to avoid Black Friday scams:

  • Always check the email sender’s address, the words in the email, and the destination of any reply or website click. If it doesn’t look legit, it’s probably not. Spelling errors and weird URLs are a red flag.
  • When shopping online, head directly to your favorite retail website by typing it in the browser address bar, or use the official app.
  • Use a low-limit credit card to make purchases. Avoid using a debit card if you can. This way, your debit card or credit card has less of a chance of being compromised, and scammers can’t access your paycheck money.
  • Check kiosks at gas stations or in other self-serve environments as everything becomes more automated. If you see a credit card skimmer, don’t risk using it, and report it to the vendor immediately.

Always plan your deals and shopping schedule ahead of time when you can do so. The more rushed you are, the more likely you might be to make a mistake — and falling for a scam.

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