Black Friday is almost here, and here’s what you need to know about Black Friday scams and how to avoid them.
The annual Black Friday sale weekend is almost upon us, but before you take advantage of all those great deals we should warn you that scammers become particularly active this time of year. What better time to scam people than during Black Friday, when too-good-to-be-true deals are actually legitimate and people are prepared to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
If you’re planning on using Black Friday as an opportunity to do your shopping online, you need to take extra care. Online shopping security tips are relevant all year round but because Black Friday attracts scammers like nothing else, the tips are more important than ever.
3 common Black Friday scams
- Amazing deals on social media and in emails
One of the most common Black Friday scams online shoppers fall for are fake deals advertised on social media and in emails. These Black Friday ads appear on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites and promote amazing deals on all kinds of goods, from brand clothes and accessories to gaming consoles, computers and smartphones. While usually deals promising 50% off on an item may seem suspicious, Black Friday is all about such large discounts so users are more prone to believing them to be legitimate.
Those fake deal advertisements on social media and in email usually contain links to stores where you can get those items. The fake online stores are often made to appear like the legitimate ones, to the minor details. For example, a fake Levi ad would lead to a website that strongly resembles the official site levi.com but the URL would be slightly different. People who shop on the fake site would not only not get their items but they would also give away their personal and payment information to cyber criminals.
- Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, etc., phishing emails asking to update payment details
Spam and phishing email campaigns become particularly active during the Black Friday/holiday season. Scammers use big retailer names like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy to phish people’s personal and financial information. For example, you may get an email from supposedly Amazon asking you to update your payment details or provide personal information. If you were to click on the link provided in the email and put in your information, crooks would successfully phish your data and have access to your account/payment information.
A survey by computer security company McAfee revealed that 37% of American participants do not check an email sender or retailer’s website for authenticity. According to the same survey 30% have lost more than $500 to online scams in 2019.
- Fake giveaways harvesting personal information
A great way for scammers to harvest user data is fake giveaways. They become quite common during the holiday season, and promise great coupons, gift cards, prizes, etc. The fake giveaways can land in your inbox, or you may encounter them on social media or when browsing certain websites. The scam may claim that a company like Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, etc., is hosting a holiday giveaway and you have been selected to participate. In order to receive the alleged prize, you would be asked to put in your personal information, such as name, phone number, email and home addresses. In the end, you would not a get a prize, and your harvested information would be used to perform bigger scams on you.
How to avoid Black Friday scams
- If you receive an email with a promotional offer, a gift card, discount, etc., always check who it came from. Even if the sender is some known company, check the email address carefully, looking for missing or additional letters.
- Never click on links asking for personal information. If you need to update your details, go to the site manually and enter what’s necessary there.
- Do not open email attachments sent by unknown senders, even if said attachment is supposedly a gift card. Spam emails can often contain some kind of malware.
- If you encounter an ad promoting deals (especially the too good to be true ones), do not blindly trust it. Note which company is offering said deal and go to their official website. If you do not see the same deal advertised anywhere on the site, the ad you saw was a scam.
- Do not give your personal information in exchange for prizes. Those giveaway ads you see everywhere on the Internet are simply data harvesting methods and not actual giveaways.
- Research an online store before making any kind of purchase. Check its reputation, reviews, social media presence, creation date, etc., to make sure it’s actually a legitimate store that won’t steal your money.