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Black Friday: how to avoid being Scammed

Black Friday: how to avoid being Scammed

carolvanzyl

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With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right on our doorstep, so too are scammers, who seem to get more devious every year. So many of us wait the entire year for big retail names to roll out their best Black Friday deals, but at the same time, we fear hackers, identity thieves, and scammers prowling the internet with phishing emails and sites, fake tracking orders, and phony deals.

Some scammers play on your emotions with bogus charities – yes, they will do about anything to get their hands on your loot! Here are some tips for the top scams you can expect this Black Friday and how to avoid them.

Top Online Scams To Avoid

Believe me; I know what a gifted skill it is to spot the best deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but do you know how to spot a scam? Let’s explore the worst ones and how you can avoid them.

Phony Order Scam

Scammers know that many packages are being sent out as people are taking advantage of Black Friday deals, and we don’t always keep track of our packages. Making it the perfect opportunity for them to send out phony order confirmations via text or email. The phishing email would either have a link to a fake website or an email attachment, where they will try to convince you to visit a site or download malware to steal your identity.

Although these emails may appear legit, it is the farthest from it; therefore, if you want to stay on top of your orders rather, keep track of them on the sites where you bought them from instead of clicking on just any email links you receive.

The Fake Tracking Number Scam

Phishing attacks don’t stop there. They even go further as scammers send fabricated delivery notifications via email or text. Generally, these are disguised as from U.S Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx.

As with the phony order scam, they will send you a link to click on to accept the delivery, which they will use to steal your personal information.

The Fraudulent Website Scam

Generally, it is if something appears too good to be true, especially on Black Friday. A classic move for scammers is “typosquat” fake URLs and email addresses that almost look like the legitimate details of legitimate retailers and companies. You will find them in phishing emails, and instead of being navigated to a great Black Friday deal, they link you to scam sites that lift your payment information, login credentials or even your money when you place an order with them.

You can avoid these fake sites by going directly to the retailer’s site. During the Black Friday frenzy or any phishing expedition, you must remain skeptical of any links you get via direct message, text, or email instead of visiting the retailer’s site and looking for their Black Friday deals.

The Gift Card Scam

The scammers who use a fake online store will ask you to pay with a digital coupon or gift card, as you can’t track gift card purchases. Once the thief has your gift card information, you can’t retrieve your money. One in four fraud victims has claimed that they paid using a gift card, according to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).

Even though Microsoft recently announced a bona fide offer that they would be emailing 50,000 virtual gift cards to random U.S customers. You should be wary of hackers that imitate virtual gift cards offered for Xbox and PS5 to rob you of cryptocurrency. Malware is installed on your computer once you click on the link. It then searches for your cryptocurrency wallet addresses.

The Fake Charity Scam

Around Thanksgiving, it is the season of giving for many of us. Sadly, many scammers thrive on taking advantage of good-hearted people by setting up fake charity sites. Con artists go above and beyond to copycat sites and social media campaigns of successful charities to deceive unknowing victims. With charity scams, something to look out for is their urgent pitch stating you need to “act now.” In contrast, a legitimate charity organization will state its case behind its need for donations without pressuring anyone.

Fake charities will ask you directly for payment via money orders, wire transfers, gift cards, and even cryptocurrency because those funds are almost impossible to retrieve once you realize you have been scammed. There are various ways for you to donate to legal charities by following the FTC’s (U.S Federal Trade Commission) guidelines

Black Friday avoid scams

How Can You Avoid Being Scammed This Black Friday

You must be highly vigilant when these scams pop up in your social media feed, texts, inbox, etc. Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to be rewarding possibilities for cybercriminals. Here are a few tips to keep you safe during your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping spree.

Avoid unfamiliar online retailers; instead, stick to legitimate ones.

A great way to avoid scammers is to go directly to the proper URLs for online retailers and stores. And when you come across retailers, you don’t know. The BBB (U.S Better Business Bureau) gives you the opportunity by providing a more accessible way of listing legitimate retailers.

Ensure there is a lock icon in your browser when shopping online

If a website is secure, it will have “HTTPS,” at the beginning of its address and not just “HTTP” as the added “s” refers to secure. It indicates that secure protocols for broadcasting sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, and so forth online are in place. You will see a small padlock icon in the address bar, so make sure it is visible before you buy anything online.

Avoid using debit cards online; instead, use credit cards.

Using your credit card instead of a debit card gives you more chances to retrieve any money you lost to fraud. The FCBA (Fair Credit Billing Act) protects people from any unauthorized use of their credit cards. Should an item not arrive, be inaccurately advertised, or be faulty, the credit card company is as liable as the retailer.

Use two-factor authentication 

On top of a password and username, using a two-factor authentication ensures extra security online. It features a one-time-use code when accessing your account, sent via call, text, or email. It combines what you have, such as your phone, with what you know, such as your password, which makes it more challenging for hackers.

If you are using public Wi-Fi to shop, then use a VPN

It is convenient to use public Wi-Fi at your favorite coffee shop, but this can expose you because these are open networks. By using a VPN (a virtual private network), you encrypt your internet traffic, securing it from any intercepting attempts on your data, like your credit card numbers and passwords.

Another bonus with a VPN is that it masks your IP address and whereabouts and keeps your activities private with encryption.

Protect your identity from online scammers

The dark web is another place where your personal information can be sold and bought, exchanged or stored. It is challenging to determine what information (if any) is stashed away on the black web, where scammers and hackers prowl. You can look at identity monitoring apps to assist you by ensuring your information is safe and alerting you if it is not on the black web.

Black Friday avoid scams

What To Do If You Are Scammed This Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Although we try to take all proper precautions, anything can happen. Whether it’s identity theft or a scam, there are steps to help you:

  1. Inform the companies involved – regularly check your bank statements and credit report.
  2. File a police report as soon as possible – provide them with as much detail as possible about the scam.
  3. Contact the trade or governmental anti-fraud organization – they can assist you with a recovery plan.
  4. Freeze your credit – review options for a credit lock or freeze.
  5. Submit an official complaint with the retailer – it will help them to investigate.
  6. Consider a digital security solution – keep your personal information safe.
Black Friday avoid scams

The Bottom Line: Keep Your Eyes Open This Black Friday

The reality is that scammers and hackers will use any opportunity they can to scam you and don’t care if you are a good person. Even if that means they have to abuse your good-hearted and give spirit, they just don’t care!

Therefore take your time to be vigilant because they are counting on you to be rushed and not miss the best Black Friday deal available. Instead, remember the key points mentioned above and stay safe because that extra moment can save you far more money and time than you could have thought.

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