Black Friday: watch out for these scams

Here’s a list of 5 common Black Friday scams you should be on the watch out for to protect yourself from losing money.

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Everyone loves a sale. That’s why we usually flock to stores and online retail sites on a day like Black Friday to score the best deals of the year. But besides all the fun and bargains, Black Friday is also a day when scammers make a killing, often using clever tactics to take advantage of consumers looking to make the most of the day.

Here is a list of five common Black Friday scams you should look out for.

1. Phishing scams

Phishing usually involves scammers creating emails or websites that look legitimate but that are designed to gain illegal access to your personal information.

For example, you might get an email seemingly from a reputable brand informing you of a great Black Friday deal. Somewhere within the email, you might be asked to click on a link that will take you to the brand’s site where you can access the deal.

But the link most likely won’t take you to the real website. Instead, it’ll take you to a bogus site created by the scammer, where you’ll be asked to provide your personal information. Unfortunately, if you do, you may expose yourself to identity theft and scammers may use your personal information to commit fraud.

As a general rule, avoid any suspicious emails and websites prompting you to provide personal information. 

2. ‘Click and receive’ emails

These often involve an out-of-the-blue email notification telling you that you’ve received a package that you don’t recall ever ordering. This is then followed by a prompt to click on a link to receive the package. If this ever happens to you, just pause for a moment and think.

Clicking on any links may only result in viruses or malware being unleashed on your device.

If you’re not sure that a message is legitimate, contact the retailer that allegedly sent it through trusted channels. You can do this, for example, via telephone or online chat after accessing the retailer’s website yourself.

3. Deals that are too good to be true

Another common Black Friday scam is an offer you receive, often by email or text, that seems too be good to be true. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. It might just be a scam that aims to trick you into clicking on a malicious link.

If you receive an email or text offer and you’re not sure of the source, don’t click any links. Instead, go to the retailer’s website directly to confirm the deal. 

4. Fake offers on social media

Scammers often use social media during Black Friday to promote incredible fake offers for popular items. They’ll usually try to convince you to make a card payment or wire money fast to receive the item. Some might also try to solicit your personal information.

Unless they’re from the official, verified accounts of reputable brands, it might be safer to just stay away from Black Friday offers on social media.

A clever way to gauge whether a wonderful deal is legitimate is to go online and Google the name of the retailer or deal and put in the word ‘scam’ after it. You’ll find all kinds of information from other consumers who might have been scammed or articles and reviews that have been written on it.

5. Gift cards scams

Gift cards are another favourite for Black Friday scammers.

For example, you might come across a Black Friday ad asking you to give out your personal information, such as your name and physical address, to win a free gift card or coupon. Unfortunately, this might just be a scam to acquire your personal info and use it to commit fraud.

Another common gift card scam is where you receive a gift card offer for a fraction of its value. You might then send cash only to find that the card is counterfeit, non-activated or past its usage window. To avoid losing your money, only buy gift cards directly from reputable retailers.

Final word

Black Friday can be an excellent time to score great deals and save money on purchases. But it’s also a time when many scammers are on the prowl for unsuspecting consumers. By being cautious and using a little common sense, you can avoid as many of these scams as possible.

To make sure you’re completely safe, it’s a good idea to always shop using a credit card, since you have the protection of Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if things go wrong with a purchase.

For more information on dealing with online scams, check out our article on how to to get your money back after being scammed online.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

The Motley Fool receives compensation from some advertisers who provide products and services that may be covered by our editorial team. It’s one way we make money. But know that our editorial integrity and transparency matters most and our ratings aren’t influenced by compensation. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Mastercard. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdown, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group, and Tesco.

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