Protecting Yourself from Black Friday Scams

( – When it comes to a good Black Friday deal, real deals are sometimes so good they’re hard to believe! Because we’re so open to good opportunities and because we’ve saved to make the holidays special for our families and treat ourselves to something we deserve, we are unfortunately more susceptible to scams during the holiday season — especially when shopping is involved. Scammers like to take advantage of our hearts being so open during this time of year, and while this is an issue that disproportionately affects the elderly, people of all ages and levels of technical expertise are getting fooled as criminals get smarter.

Going Phishing

Phishing is a tactic that scammers use, typically by email, to get you to hand over your personal information. If you click on an illegitimate site and enter your personal information, you’ve just handed it over to a scammer who can sell it on the dark web! Take your time when reading through emails and make sure you’re clicking through to a site that seems legit.

Fraudulent Website

This goes hand-in-hand with phishing: a fake website. Scammers can now use AI to copy and rebuild legitimate websites, so it’s getting trickier to spot them. Always check the URL at the top of the web browser to make sure you’re on the correct, official site. If you think something about the site looks off, it probably is.

Card Skimmers

Card skimmers are usually devices added to gas station pumps and other kiosks. They read your card when you swipe it, then store the number. Always inspect the kiosk before you swipe, tap, or insert your chip.

Item Order Issue

“Due to an issue with your address, USPS was unable to deliver your package. Please enter your personal information to continue.”

What a moment of panic this one can induce! But — it’s a scam. USPS won’t ask you for personal information over text message, and if you aren’t sure, you can always call them or go to the post office in person.

This scammer tactic works well, especially around the holidays, because we get panicked when we think there is a problem or delay concerning the delivery of our loved ones’ gifts.

The Fake Charity

Not all charities — even famous ones — are reputable. Scammers make the most during the holidays, as 36% of charitable donations are made during the holiday seasons. Fortunately, you can use an AARP and FTC-recommended third-party site like CharityWatch to check out all aspects of a charity before you decide to make a donation.

How to Avoid Black Friday Scams

There are a few ways to avoid Black Friday Scams:

  • Always check email sender address, the copy or words in the email, and the destination of any reply or website click. If it doesn’t look legit, it’s probably not.
  • For the best deals, head directly to your favorite retail website (such as Walmart or Amazon) by typing it in the browser address bar — or even better, use your official app.
  • Always use a low-limit credit card to make purchases. This way, your debit 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.

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

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