With Christmas just around the corner, this time of year is full of joy and giving, but unfortunately, it’s also the season when scammers come out in full force. As Black Friday approaches, the excitement of snagging incredible deals can cloud our judgment, making us more susceptible to scams. In this blog, we’ll explore the various tactics scammers employ and provide you with essential tips on how to protect yourself and your hard-earned money during the holiday shopping frenzy.
Personal Experience: A Close Call with Black Friday Scammers
Last year, I found myself in the crosshairs of Black Friday scammers. In my pursuit of a great deal on a Ninja air fryer (Who didn’t want an Air Fryer last year!?), I stumbled upon what seemed like the bargain of a lifetime. The scammers had gone to great lengths to clone the official Ninja website, complete with a timer ticking down to create a sense of urgency. Convinced I was about to secure a genuine product at an unbelievable price, I fell right into their trap.
It wasn’t until after the transaction was complete that the first inkling of doubt set in. No confirmation email, no order details – just a sinking feeling that something was wrong. Digging deeper, I uncovered the truth: I had fallen victim to a meticulously crafted online scam. Without hesitation, I reached out to my bank, detailing the fraudulent transaction and pleading for assistance. The bank, to my immense relief, initiated a chargeback process, and I was fortunate enough to recover my funds. My close call with Black Friday scammers was a stark reminder of how important it is to check what and who you are buying from.
- Beware of Too-Good-To-Be-True Deals:
Scammers often lure unsuspecting shoppers with unbelievable discounts that seem too good to pass up. My own experience serves as a reminder that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research.
- Double-Check Website Authenticity:
Before making any online purchases, verify the legitimacy of the website. My oversight in not thoroughly vetting the Ninja air fryer deal nearly cost me dearly. Another good way to check a website is to head to Trust Pilot, a lot of sites are listed here and you can usually see what reviews are left. I have seen an example before where people have been scammed by a site and those people have left negative reviews on Trustpilot, which would of course immediately stop you from wanting to purchase here.
- Phishing Emails and Texts:
Scammers love to impersonate legitimate retailers by sending emails or texts with enticing offers. Learn from my experience and avoid clicking on links directly from these messages. Make sure to look at the email address and see if it looks like a legitimate email address. If there is a link in the email, why not actually head to the website of the supplier you think it is and check that the deal is there, and go directly through the website if so. Avoid clicking on those links.
- Use Familiar and Secure Payment Methods:
Stick to reputable payment methods when making online purchases. My bank’s responsiveness during the chargeback process highlights the importance of secure payment options. Making purchases on credit cards is a good way of staying protected, they usually offer better protection with purchases and it’s easier to be able to stop purchases.
- Keep Software and Antivirus Programs Updated:
Ensure your devices have the latest security updates. Regular updates help protect against the latest scams and vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of falling victim to online fraud.
- Monitor Your Accounts:
Frequently check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorised transactions. Once a scammer gets hold of your account details, they could start taking money from your account or start purchasing items with your card. It’s always a good habit to get into, checking your accounts on a regular basis.
While Black Friday offers fantastic opportunities to score great deals, it’s crucial to remain vigilant against scammers looking to take advantage of the holiday shopping frenzy. By staying informed, double-checking the authenticity of websites, and using secure payment methods, you can enjoy the holiday season without the added stress of falling victim to scams. My personal encounter emphasises the importance of learning from our experiences and approaching Black Friday with a discerning eye to safeguard both our festive spirit and our wallets. Happy Spending!