Avoid Black Friday again this year

Avoid Black Friday again this year

By Greg Collier

As you’re probably well aware of, this Friday is the infamous shopping holiday Black Friday. Every year, we urge our readers to avoid going to brick and mortar stores due to deceptive practices by the stores. Last year, we urged our readers not to go for health reasons due to the ongoing pandemic. This year, we’d like to remind our readers that COVID-19 infections are still happening and being in such close quarters with other shoppers may increase the risk of infection. But again, there are other reasons why you should be wary of many different things on Black Friday.

The first thing to be aware of is the so-called doorbuster deals. These items are usually very limited in stock. These items are generally designed to get you in the door and try to get you to buy something more expensive once the limited stock is exhausted. Some have even said that the doorbuster products are manufactured with cheaper components to keep profit margins high for the store. That’s not even taking the current supply line crisis into account, as this year’s stock could be even more limited than before. Many of the doorbuster deals can be found on sale later on in the holiday season at an even better price if they’ll be available.

Shopping online is a much better alternative, but there are pitfalls online that need to be avoided as well. While shopping with the major online retailers is relatively safe, scammers will try to trick you into believing you’re using one of those retailers. Scammers will send out phishing emails using the actual logos of famous shopping sites but will leave a link in the email that will take you to a phony site that resembles the real thing. They’ll then try to gain your financial information for possible identity theft and other potential abuses. In the same vein, scammers will pose as retailers and email you asking you to download something to get a deal. This will instead infect your device with malware, which could allow bad actors to access your device remotely and steal as much information as they want from it. Always go directly to a retailer’s website rather than clicking on anything in an email.

If at all possible, use a credit card when shopping online. While debit cards may offer some protection against fraudulent purchases, credit cards have better protections and won’t take any money directly from your bank balance. Also, keep an eye on both your debit and credit card accounts to make sure that no unauthorized purchases have been made on them. Many of these services can be set up to send you a notification every time the account is used. While the notifications may be a bit annoying, they can go a long way in preventing fraud on your accounts.

Even if you’re just buying gift cards for the family this year, there are still hazards to look out for. If you get a gift card where the PIN has already been exposed, it may have already been bought by a scammer. Sometimes scammers will put the card back on the shelf, hoping that someone will add additional funds to the card. Then the scammer could use the funds on the card without your knowledge. Another variation of this scam is when a scammer will scratch the protective coating off the card’s PIN, then replace it with a sticker after writing down the number.

We hope these tips help you shop smarter and safer this holiday season.