How to avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams
The extended weekend that ushers in the holiday shopping season—the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday—can put you at great risk. Shopping scams abound. A phishing scheme or a bogus bargain can quickly turn your mood from merry to Grinch.
While you try to snag the best after-Thanksgiving deals, be aware of these online selling scams that can end up costing you a lot of money in the long run.
1. Crazy deals that are bogus
Flashy ads and bargain-basement deals can cause you to make rash decisions and spend more than you planned. But be careful to be on your guard.
An iPhone® X retailing at $12? A pair of genuine Ugg® boots for $9? These deals sound too good to be true because they are. Don’t be one of the thousands of people who fall for these scams., Once the scammers have your credit card information, they won’t hesitate to use it for their own shopping spree.
How to shop smarter: Don’t believe any ridiculously low advertised price. It’s likely bait used by scammers to lure you into their trap. Legitimate Black Friday deals tend to fall within 20 to 30 percent off the regular price or include free shipping.
2. Gift cards that are really a Black Friday scam
In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, you might see an explosion of cheap gift cards being sold at online marketplaces. The gift cards are linked to big-name retailers and offered for a fraction of their real value.
These cards are usually stolen from their real owners. The victim of the theft will likely report the loss and the card will be disabled. Unfortunately, you’ll find out when it’s too late.
How to shop smarter: Don’t buy any gift cards that are retailing at a heavily marked-down price.
3. Bait and switch
Want to be the lucky winner of a brand-new iPhone® X? Just fill out a form with your personal details and take this survey. Don’t do it! Your personal details and a site whose authenticity you can’t verify are two things that should never meet. The sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get your information. And, with holiday expenses growing each year, it’s the perfect time to lure an innocent victim into thinking they’ve just saved a ton of money.
And, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe from a bait-and-switch scam just because you’re doing all your Black Friday shopping at the mall. Bait-and-switch scams can happen offline, too.
The brick-and-mortar version of this scam is somewhat less nefarious. You may find yourself hoping to catch a bargain, but once you visit the store, you’ll be told the item is sold out. You’ll be shown similar, but inferior, products or nothing you’re interested in at all. These scams are a waste of your time and often your money, too.
How to shop smarter: Don’t enter any sweepstakes or believe advertisements for heavily marked-down prices on sites and stores you’re unfamiliar with.
4. Delivery problems
If after making an online purchase you get an email telling you there is a delivery problem and asking you to click on a link or download an attachment to arrange an alternative delivery date, it’s a scam. You may also receive a message asking you to pay an extra fee for delivery after you’ve completed an order. Again, this email is bogus and you’re being scammed. Ignore these emails. And, if you have a problem with the delivery of your purchase, contact the seller or company directly.
How to shop smarter: Never download anything or click on a link from an unverifiable source.
5. Online purchases that can only be paid for with a wire transfer
Never agree to an online purchase demanding payment via money order or wire transfer. These forms of payment are favorites among scammers because they are like paying with cash—once the money has changed hands, there’s almost no way you can get it back.
How to shop smarter: Use your credit card when frequenting unfamiliar stores and websites.
Let us help you do the shopping
At Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union, we have several options to make your holiday shopping more convenient and safer. Pick up a VISA® gift card for FREE from now through December 31, 2018 for everyone on your holiday list. We even have special holiday designs available! Or, get a pre-paid VISA card that isn’t tied to your personal accounts, making shopping safer. We also help you quickly detect shopping scams and other issues with fraud alerts on our debit cards. To learn more, contact us or call (888) 554-2328, ext. 280.