Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be fun – but they can also put you at risk. Here are 5 scams to look out for as you brave the frenzied crowds while trying to snag the best deals after Thanksgiving.
1. Crazy deals that are actually bogus - An iPhone X retailing at just $12? A pair of Ugg boots for $9? These deals sound insane because they are. And yet, thousands of people fall for these scams every Black Friday. And, of course, once the scammers have your credit card information, they’ll use it for their own shopping spree – on your dime.
Be smarter: Don’t believe any advertised price that is ridiculously low.
2. Black Friday gift cards for cheap - In the days before Black Friday, you might see an explosion of gift cards being sold at online marketplaces for a fraction of their real value. These cards are usually stolen from their real owners, who will likely report them lost. The card will be disabled and you’ll have spent your money on a worthless piece of plastic.
Be smarter: Don’t buy any super-cheap gift cards
3. Bait and switch - Want to win a brand new iPhone X? Just fill out a form with your personal details, and you might be the lucky winner! Your personal details and a site whose authenticity you can’t verify are two things that should never meet. The sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get at your information.
“Bait and switch” scams can happen offline, too. Retailers advertise deals so amazing, you’ll find yourself traveling across town to grab the bargains. Once you reach the store, though, you’ll be told those items are sold out, but you can check out what they do have in stock. You may be offered similar, but inferior, products and cheap knockoffs, or nothing you’re interested in at all. These scams are a waste of your time and money.
Be smarter: Don’t enter any sweepstakes or believe advertisements for heavily marked-down prices on sites and stores you’re unfamiliar with.
4. Delivery problems - If you receive an email claiming there’s been a problem with the delivery of one of your purchases, be wary. You may be asked to click on a link or download an attachment to arrange an alternative delivery date. Ignore these emails; they’re likely to be scams. If you have a problem with the delivery of your purchase, contact the seller or company directly.
Be smarter: Never download anything or click on a link from an unverifiable source.
5. Wire transfers - This Black Friday, use your credit card. It offers you the most protection against purchases that don’t turn out to be what you expected. A debit card can be a good choice, too, if you’re only shopping at stores and sites you trust and frequent often.
Never agree to an online purchase that demands payment via money order or wire transfer. Once money changes hands this way, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.
Be smarter: When frequenting unfamiliar stores and sites, use your credit card.