Buyer Beware: Black Friday Scams to Avoid Today

If you’re planning to take part in the busiest US shopping day of the year today, good luck out there. You’re likely aware of the traffic, the crowds of customers and long lines at the registers you will probably face. But did you know about the other Black Friday threats facing consumers? The scams that aim to steal your personal information and money? Staying at home to shop online may seem like the smarter (and less stressful) option today, but online shoppers may also face headaches if they are lured into one of these scams. USA Today published an article earlier this week warning consumers about the top scams to watch out for this Black Friday - both at the store and online:

Phony Coupons

Anti-virus software company Norton is warning consumers about the potential of getting their hands on fake coupons. These coupons may look real and offer an attractive discount, but their sole purpose could be to lure to an illegitimate website to enter credit or debit card information. Double check with a retailer or Black Friday ads to ensure the coupon is real before using it online.

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Data Breaches - Use Credit, Not Debit

Last year’s Black Friday is when Target suffered its massive data breach - where more than 70 million customers had their personal information stolen by hackers. In the last year, other major retailers have experienced large-scale data breaches. According to Courtney Jespersen of NerdWallet, a content partner of USA Today, consumers should opt to purchase with credit rather than a debit card to better protect themselves against a data breach. You can dispute charges more easily when they are made with a credit card instead of a debit. Cash, really, is the safest option to avoid a breach of your personal information at the store register.

Email Spam

Phony emails can bring you to dangerous websites when it comes to personal security. The FBI offered some tips to consumers to weed out the fake email offers for Black Friday and the remainder of the holiday season. They include:

  • Checking who sent the email – is it a business you signed up to receive notifications from? If not, be wary of clicking on any links within the email or entering any personal information.
  • Don’t download attachments from unrecognizable or sketchy-looking emails – they may be viruses.
  • Does the email stress an emergency? Hurry quick – this deal won’t be available for long! The FBI says this “urgency” is a tactic fraudsters often employ to try to get consumers to sign up or buy something without much thought.
  • Use common sense: “Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” the FBI said.

Low-Quality Products

Another thing to be wary of when shopping online is phony websites. Some sites appear to offer high quality, discounted items but actually sell cheap knockoffs. If a retailer, website or merchant seems fishy, check them out. Do some research, even check with the Better Business Bureau.

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