Black Friday scams

Top 7 Black Friday scams to watch out for

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PUREVPNGuidesHow-TosTop 7 Black Friday scams to watch out for

‘Tis the season for hot cocoa by the fireplace, autumn leaves crunching below the feet, and of course, mind-blowing Black Friday deals that make your wallet sing. With the holidays fast approaching, this is the perfect opportunity to fill up your shopping cart with all the gadgets on your wishlist and the clothes you’ve been eyeing all year. 

However, before you get too mesmerized by all the Black Friday sales on the internet, please remember that online scams are pretty high during this time of the year. In fact, according to a recent report by Barclays, purchase scams saw a sharp hike of 22% during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday seasons last year. 

So, how can you keep malicious actors from scamming you out of your hard-earned money while making most of the best Black Friday deals? Keep reading to find out.

Top Black Friday scams you should know about

top black friday scams to avoid

Let’s take a look at the top Black Friday scams and discuss ways to steer clear of them.

1. Fake shopping websites

One of the most common Black Friday scams involves the creation of fake shopping sites that closely mimic the appearance of well-known retailers. These deceptive websites often use similar domain names and lure unsuspecting shoppers with seemingly irresistible discounts. 

However, once the users add items to their cart and enter their personal or bank details to check out, scammers get a hold of this data. Such online scams usually lead to financial loss and identity theft, both of which can be really hard to recover from, especially during the holiday season.

How to stay safe from this Black Friday scam?

Vigilance is key to avoiding these Black Friday scams. Make sure to always double-check the website address and look for HTTPS in the URL. Moreover, stick to well-known and reputable online retailers, especially during the holidays. Experts also recommend using secure payment methods, such as credit cards, that offer fraud protection.

2. Account verification scams

During the Black Friday 2023 frenzy, you may feel the pressure to buy items as quickly as possible to avoid losing out on discounts. While it’s a perfectly normal thing to do, it’s important to remember that cybercriminals may exploit the sense of urgency to trick you into sharing sensitive information through account verification scams. 

These online scams are becoming increasingly common and can be a little hard to identify. Therefore, it is important for you to understand how it works. It all starts with shoppers receiving emails or messages claiming an urgent need for account verification due to security reasons. When they click on the provided links, they are redirected to phishing sites designed to steal login credentials. 

How to stay safe from this Black Friday scam?

To stay secure from such online scams, you should never click on suspicious links or provide personal information through unsolicited messages. Instead, log in directly on the official website or contact customer support through official channels to verify the legitimacy of any account-related notifications.

3. Fake coupons and vouchers

Scammers often take advantage of the excitement around Black Friday and Cyber Monday to distribute fake coupons and vouchers, exploiting the desire for discounts and deals. These fake offers may arrive via email or social media, promising unbelievable offers or even free goodies. 

The goal of these online scams is to lure unsuspecting shoppers into clicking on malicious links or providing personal information. Unfortunately, fake coupon scams tend to see a substantial surge during the holiday season. So, if you have recently come across any coupon or voucher that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How to stay safe from this Black Friday scam?

If you want to steer clear of this scam, you may want to verify the authenticity of your coupons by directly visiting the official website of the retailer. In addition, avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and maintain a healthy skepticism towards deals that are practically a steal.

4. Fake order confirmation

Imagine you’ve ordered multiple items on Black Friday and are excitedly checking your email for confirmation emails. However, what happens if a seemingly legit order confirmation pops up for something you never bought? There’s a good chance you might end up clicking on it.

These are called ‘fake order confirmation’ scams. Scammers capitalize on the chaos surrounding Black Friday deals and blend their fake emails with malicious links with the real ones to catch the shoppers off guard. These links, as mentioned above, could lead to phishing traps or worse, even download malware onto your device. 

On a side note, check out our guide to find out the difference between malware and virus.

How to stay safe from this Black Friday scam?

In the digital shopping battlefield, caution is your best defense. Take a moment to read through those order confirmations to ensure you don’t end up clicking on something you weren’t supposed to. You can spot fraudulent emails by looking for irregularities, misspellings, or anything fishy. 

5. Fake delivery notifications

Imagine racing against time to get an incredible Black Friday deal and waiting for days for your order to arrive only to receive a fake delivery notification. Sounds frustrating, doesn’t it?

Scammers cash in on the excitement of Black Friday deals with fake delivery notifications. Shoppers may receive emails or text messages claiming to provide tracking information for a recent order. However, clicking on the provided links could lead to phishing sites or install malware on your device. It’s a common fraud, though it increases significantly during this time of the year.

How to stay safe from this Black Friday scam?

To avoid falling victim to this online scam, you can cross-verify the tracking details by directly accessing the retailer’s official website. Alternatively, you can contact their customer support. It is also worth mentioning that legitimate delivery notifications will typically come from trusted sources. You should also exercise caution while dealing with unexpected messages. 

Read more: Your ultimate holiday shopping guide

6. Facebook Marketplace scams

We’ve already talked about the most common scams on Facebook Marketplace, but there are still a few Facebook scams you should look for during the Black Friday – Cyber Monday season. For example, scammers create fake pages and advertise popular products at unbelievable prices, aiming to trick eager shoppers. 

The scam unfolds when a user clicks on the listing and communicates with the seller through Facebook Messenger. The scammers usually claim that the discounted price is due to a Black Friday special or a clearance sale. To sweeten the deal, they may even offer free shipping or additional perks. However, once the buyer is convinced and makes the payment, the scammer either provides a fake tracking number or disappears altogether. 

As a result, people end up making online payments for non-existent items and lose money in the process. 

How to stay safe from this Black Friday scam?

One of the easiest ways to avoid Facebook scams is to only purchase items from reputable sellers or official brand pages. While the Black Friday sales on Facebook Marketplace may seem alluring, it is better to pay a few extra bucks to buy an item from a verified source instead of losing money on an impulsive buy that does not even exist.

7. Gift card scams

Last but not least, gift card scams also surge during the holiday season, with scammers posing as legitimate retailers offering attractive gift card deals. You may also come across fake promotions promising hard-to-believe discounts on gift cards. According to a 2021 report by the Federal Trade Commission, the number of gift card scams has increased every year since 2018.

Gift card scams typically involve scammers posing as authorities, tech support, or even friends in urgent need, pressuring victims to buy gift cards. Once purchased, scammers demand the card numbers and PINs, allowing them to quickly redeem the funds, leaving victims with financial losses. These scams exploit the anonymity and irreversibility of gift card transactions, making it challenging to trace or recover the stolen funds.

How to stay safe from this Black Friday scam?

To steer clear, consumers should purchase gift cards directly from the official retailer or authorized distributors. Moreover, always avoid sharing gift card information with unknown contacts or unsolicited calls, and verify requests from supposed authorities independently to prevent falling victim to gift card scams.

How to boost your online security this Black Friday

Now that you know the top Black Friday scams, here are a few safety measures that can help keep your online shopping experience secure. 

1. Use strong passwords

One of the most effective steps to boost online security is by creating strong passwords. Ensure your passwords are unique, complex, and not easily guessable by utilizing a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. In addition, avoid using easily discoverable information, such as birthdays or names. 

You can also consider employing a premium password manager such as PureKeep to handle your credentials securely.

2. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

Add an extra layer of protection to your online shopping adventure by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. This means that even if your password is compromised, a secondary verification step, often a code sent to your phone, would keep criminals from accessing your details. Many online platforms and services offer 2FA as an option in their security settings.

3. Use secure WiFi networks

Public WiFi networks may seem like a blessing, but they can seriously compromise your online privacy and security. Therefore, whenever you’re making online purchases, ensure you’re using a secure WiFi network. You can also use a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) such as PureVPN to encrypt your connection and protect your data from potential eavesdroppers.

On a final note

Black Friday is perhaps the best time to get all the shopping done for the holiday season. From treating yourself to buying gifts for your loved ones, you can make the most of the Black Friday sales and save a lot of money in the process. 

However, it is crucial to remember that online scams are at an all-time high during this period, so follow the best safety measures to protect yourself from the most common Black Friday scams.

Stay connected to PureVPN Blog to learn about the latest cybersecurity trends. 

Read more: Top eBay scams and how to avoid them

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