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How to Shop Safely This Black Friday

Black Friday brings out the money and the scammers.
Brad Russell

Brad Russell

Millions of Australians participate in Black Friday sales each year. The event even became a vital factor in the 7% increase in retail store sales in November of 2020. It’s not surprising given the enormous discounts, new product launches, and other unbelievable deals that are only available during this shopping season. And because of the pandemic, more and more products and offers can be found online. Shoppers find this change convenient because they don’t have to rush to stores and compete with other buyers.

But along with this convenience comes potential danger. Scammers have seen a consistent increase in shopping activity, which they see as a means to cash in. Thousands of Australians fall victim to Black Friday and holiday shopping scams. It’s only a matter of time before they make off with your credit card information, which makes up 49.8% of online fraud in the country. Worse, they could steal your identity (34.6%) and use it for other fraudulent activities online.

The good news is that you can easily protect yourself and avoid Black Friday scams. Here are the Black Friday cons you should be aware of and how to not become a victim of these scams when shopping online during this time.

 

Ordered Items That Do Not Arrive

You have spent countless hours browsing for the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Finally, you have come across products that have unbeatable prices. You excitedly put them in your cart and purchase them. However, you do not receive the tracking number. You wait for the estimated date of arrival, but no package reaches your door. The seller of the products will soon disappear, and it can be challenging to figure out how you can get your money back.

This non-delivery scam is rampant. It’s easy to get tempted because of the too-good-to-be-true prices of the items the sellers are offering. The best way to avoid the scam is to stick to verified reputable merchants. That’s not to say that you should avoid buying from a new retailer. However, you should always take the time to do your due diligence. Make sure the person or business has a physical address, a phone number that you can reach, and a professional-looking website.

How do you know the website is sketchy? There are usually spelling and grammatical mistakes. The design may be odd, and it takes a while for the pages to load. Never buy from a website that does not have SSL encryption. Check that it uses HTTPS and not HTTP for its URL. Also, look for a lock icon next to the website address.

 

Gift Cards Required as Method of Payment

Credit card transactions are generally safe and difficult to fake. This is one reason why some fraudulent sellers want the customers to use a gift card instead. The method of payment typically takes place on auction sites. Gift cards are easy ways for scammers to get money from you, so stay away from them as much as possible.

You can avoid getting fooled by these criminals by treating your gift cards as if they were cash. Don’t give anyone your PIN and gift card number even if they tell you that you will receive freebies or discounts.

Another great way to prevent this scam is to use the gift card on the issuing merchant only. For instance, you should use your IKEA gift card at IKEA.com or an IKEA store. Meanwhile, if you’re using a Visa or Mastercard gift card, never purchase anything from a retailer you don’t trust.

A great way to prevent scams is to use the gift card on the issuing merchant only.

 

Fake Charity Donations

Some crooks may take advantage of your generosity when you want to give back and help people in need. They bait kind-hearted people with stories that touch you emotionally so they can scam you into giving a donation when you buy online. Unfortunately, your contribution does not go to the individuals or groups that require financial assistance. Most of these pleas for help are entirely made up.

If you see these ads whilst shopping on Black Friday, you should first research the charity or organisation. Don’t make an impulse donation until you confirm the legitimacy of the charity in question.

 

Emails and Messages about an Order You Never Created

Sometimes, it can be challenging to keep track of your orders and criminals know about this challenge. That’s why they take advantage of people who are busy shopping on Black Friday, tricking them to click on a phishing website. Typically, the premise of this scam is to send a message or email to an unknowing victim, providing fake instructions.

For example, someone tells you that your ordered item will be delayed or cancelled unless you enter your private information. The phishing email is often tricky to recognise but not impossible. If you did not order the item stated in the email, do not click any link. Usually, these links will ask for your bank login credentials and other sensitive information, which the crooks can then gain access to.

If you did not order the item stated in the email, do not click any link.

 

Sham Black Friday Websites

Have you ever gone to your favourite store’s website only to find that it is not the actual site? Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us. The usual scenario is that you misspell the website address in the browser bar. Scammers know about the typical spelling mistakes, which they use to create a similar site where they encourage people to make a purchase.

Unfortunately, these websites are dangerous. They will ask for your name, address, and credit card information, which they then grab for their benefit. Don’t fall for these clone websites. You can bookmark the sites you normally go to, so you can quickly enter without typing the website address. Also, avoid clicking third-party links, especially those provided on social media that come with tantalising promotions.

Shop safely by buying your favourite items here on Oz Black Friday Deals, your trusted source for explosive Black Friday discounts and offers.