This will help you avoid Black Friday scams

Black Friday is one of the busiest times of the year when almost everyone has a lot to do. Shopkeepers are busy offering deals, while buyers are busy screening the best deals for them. Hackers are also busy designing new scams to dupe shoppers in search of deals. However, you can easily avoid Black Friday scams with the help of a few tips.

How can hackers trick you?

Hackers use several tricks to attract users looking for deals during the holiday season, especially on Black Friday. Black Friday this year is expected to break all previous sales records with buyers estimated to spend $29 billion online over the Thanksgiving weekend.

With so much money involved, hackers will also be very busy trying to capture as many victims as possible. They employ tricks such as putting up fake websites, sending phishing emails and more. Hackers also use tricks to lure buyers away from genuine sites and toward malicious sites or apps.

Security firm RiskIQ found about 1,000 malicious apps using holiday-related terms, while more than 6,000 apps mimicked names and slogans from popular retailers. Moreover, hackers sometimes attack merchants’ websites directly, similar to how Macy’s website was hit last month.

However, buyers can avoid Black Friday scams by being a bit more careful and following these tips.

Stick to the basics

One of the first tips to avoid Black Friday scams is to go back to the basics. This includes several points that you may be already aware of, but don’t practice, such as not storing credit card information online, using credit cards instead of debit cards and more. It is always safer to enter your card details again when you need to rather than saving them on the web.

For additional security, you can deactivate the autocomplete or auto-fill details feature in the browser. Also make sure you visit secure websites. It would also help to study the privacy and security policies of the company from which you are buying. For instance, check their return and delivery policies. Going through the reviews will also reveal a good deal about the site.

Another basic thing to do is never share important details or complete any transactions over a public Wi-Fi network.

How to avoid Black Friday scams

These tips will largely help you to avoid most scams. However, hackers have gotten much smarter these days. They have designed almost foolproof scams that most will fall for. The only way to protect yourself from these scams is to know how they work. Let’s discuss some of the most popular Black Friday scams that hackers use to steal money.

One such scam is the Secret Sister’s gift exchange, and you should not fall for this because it is a pyramid scheme. This scheme started around 2015 on Facebook. It is a pyramid scheme but is presented as a holiday gift exchange. This trick is based on the popular Secret Santa gift exchange, in which a random person buys a gift for another randomly-selected person.

Basically, it promises that you will get, for example, $350 worth of gifts if you purchase a $10 gift for someone else. You not only lose $10, but you are also encouraged to share your personal details.

Another common but effective scam is the “Click and Receive.” Under this, you will get an email claiming you received a gift you weren’t expecting from a post office or any shipping vendor. You must never fall for such tricks, especially if the email asks you to fill out a form or share your personal information.

The next scam you should be aware of involves hackers stealing your personal information when you use your credit card. Traditionally, hackers stole information when people used their debit or credit card at gas pumps or any other payment kiosk. However, last month’s attack on Macy’s showed that hackers now have the capability to do this digitally as well.

This means instead of using your physical card to get hold of your payment information, hackers put malicious code inside the website from which you are shopping to get your payment information. To avoid such scams, it is recommended that you don’t save your credit card information on shopping sites, use third-party payment platforms such as Google Wallet, PayPal, or Apple Pay, enable purchase alert, disable international purchases on credit cards, and never use public Wi-Fi to make a payment.

The next scam you should watch out for is the offer alert. This basically means that if an offer sounds too good to be true, then it is probably fake. Such an offer will primarily be from a site that you haven’t heard of before or from sites that pose as any established shopping site. You may get an email or text also informing you of an offer on a particular site. You should be cautious of such sites, and if you have even the slightest  bit of doubt about the authenticity of a site, then exit or close it quickly.

A truth that can’t be negated is that as long as online shopping exists, scammers will make every possible attempt to dupe you. The only way you can avoid all this is to stick to the basics and be aware of the tricks scammers use to rip you off. Hopefully, the above information will help you avoid Black Friday scams this year and in the future.

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About the Author

Aman Jain
Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at amanjain@valuewalk.com