5 Common Black Friday scams and how to avoid them

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By Polly Percival 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are very enticing days for shopping before the holiday season begins, allowing for discounted prices on favorite products. However, with this encouragement comes an opportunity for scammers to take advantage of people’s willingness to spend money. With this in mind, it’s important to remain vigilant and aware of any potential scams that may come your way.  

Scams relating to banking and payment are common, this is where scammers pose as either your bank or a company you’ve recently purchased from claiming that your payment has not been received, has not gone through or that your details need updating. They may ask you to follow a link or send personal details over to them to “solve” this issue. The best way to avoid losing money to this form of fraud is to contact the company or your bank directly to request more information on the issue. These scams will often come with a sense of urgency, stating that if you don’t send the details over straight away you will miss out on the deal and savings – this is another sign that these claims are fake. Also, if you have willingly given information over to a scammer, banks are less likely to reimburse this fraudulent activity, so being aware of these scams is extremely important. 

1 – Suspicious Links  

This could be anything from an email, text message or online advert – if it doesn’t seem legitimate, don’t click it. There are a few ways you can check the legitimacy of a text or email – clicking on the contact information of the sender can provide insight; if the email address or phone number of the sender doesn’t match up with the company, they’re associating themselves with, it’s likely fake.  

2 – Browser Extensions 

Around Black Friday a lot of “money-saving” browser extensions start appearing – be cautious with these, some are legitimate but some have been developed by scammers for phishing data. In short, avoid installing any new browser extensions relating to finances around this time of year – the most legitimate Black Friday savings will be found through the company websites directly. If you do opt to install extensions, be sure to do your research – putting the name through sites like TrustPilot can help identify any suspicions.  

3 – Billing Scams  

Scammers might send you a message claiming to be a company you’ve bought from, telling you that your payment has not gone through and that you need to update your payment information. They might back this up with a sense of urgency, claiming that you will miss out on the deal. If you are faced with a message like this, it’s best to contact the company directly to ensure that you aren’t sending your details to an external source.  

4 – Unfamiliar Websites 

It’s easy to get lost in the deals of Black Friday, but it’s important to check where you’re ordering from. A lot of scammers will create fake websites claiming to sell products for an “amazing” price, when in fact they are using the opportunity to retrieve your data and bank details. Before purchasing anything from a site you don’t recognize, search the name on TrustPilot to ensure they’re a legitimate seller, but ultimately, it’s best to avoid unfamiliar sites, especially around this time of year.  

5 – Verification Code Scams 

This scam is used by hackers to get through a two-factor authentication put in place to protect your data – they may pose as your bank or a company you’ve recently purchased from, claiming that you need to confirm a verification code in order to finalize a purchase. These scammers will often already have your password and username, but with the verification, will be able to access more of your data. 

It is also important to be cautious about the websites you’re ordering from, the deals may look great until you realize they’re actually a way for scammers to access your personal information and bank details. Double-check the website URL before ordering anything to make sure it’s the official company site and if you don’t recognize the name of the company, I would recommend avoiding it completely, a lot of fake websites appear around this time of year, with Christmas sales approaching too – it’s best to miss out on a couple of deals than to be scammed out of a lot of money through bank fraud. 

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