I first would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. What makes Thanksgiving or any holiday special is that we get to spend time with family and friends, so I hope you take this opportunity to enjoy your loved ones.
Recently, I received an email from a reader who told me the trouble she encountered last year on Black Friday when she ended up buying some holiday gifts on a bogus website. To make a long story short, she received an email about a
Black Friday special and it turned out the website was bogus. Her credit card information was stolen, and she told me all the problems she encountered. The reason for her email was she wanted me to remind my readers about the scams surrounding Black Friday. I agree, it’s an important topic and I wanted to address it.
We all know that retailers and shoppers alike, gear up for Black Friday. In fact, over the last number of years it seems Black Friday has obtained mythical status as the best day to shop. Whether that’s actually true or not, I’m not sure, but I do know many of you will not only be out at the stores, but also shopping online for Black Friday specials as well as on Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, the crooks also know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge shopping days, and they have also been gearing up to take advantage of you. That is why whenever there is a major event such as Black Friday, it’s more important than ever that we keep our guard up to protect ourselves. After all, the lowlifes and the fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated in their attempt to con us.
Scammers use a variety of methods to scam us. These include fake emails and false social media posts that have links to websites that attempt to steal our credit card information. Many of these emails and social media posts promise incredible deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday that almost seem too good to be true. Many of these emails and posts encourage you to immediately respond, because as they say, supplies are limited. Unfortunately, too many people link to these sites and that’s where their problems develop. As far as I’m concerned, one way to protect yourself is to not follow links on emails or social media posts. If it’s a deal that you think you want to pursue, at a minimum, you need to type the web address into the browser itself and do not link directly to it.
Another thing that you need to be aware of is that many of the scam artists set up look-alike websites. These fraudulent websites, in many situations, are selling counterfeit goods, or worse the website is infected with some sort of malware or they’re just out to steal your money. It is important that if you’re using a website that you’re unfamiliar with, that before you give them any of your sensitive information such as your charge card number, you try to do some research to make sure that the website you’re using is legit. I recognize that this is not easy; however, it is important.
Another thing that you need to do to protect yourself is to not click on those pop-up ads you see. In many situations you see pop-up ads on legitimate sites, so you assume it’s okay to link to them; unfortunately, that is not the case. Once again, a better way of going is to not click on the link, but to type in the web address in the browser.
Lastly, one way to always protect yourself is to use a charge card versus a debit card. Under our consumer protection laws, charge cards have a little more protection than debit cards, and that’s why when shopping online I generally recommend you use charge cards.
It’s a shame that during the holiday season that we have to be more on guard than at any other time; however, it is what it is. The reality of the situation is the crooks and lowlifes are gearing up for the holiday season and we have to be smarter than them to protect ourselves.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
Rick is a fee-only financial advisor. If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org.