Everyone loves Black Friday…even scammers.
It’s a shame, but it’s the hard truth. While we’re out and about, enjoying all the wonderful sales, stocking up on Christmas gifts or purchasing a few fun items for ourselves, we need to remain vigilant.
Online scams and elder fraud are at all time highs, which is exactly why we built WayWiser—to protect our loved ones hard earned assets and financial independence as they age—and Black Friday scams are here again with the holidays around the corner.
Going into the holidays, it’s crucial to not only watch out for yourself with the tips below, but to inform your parents and other loved ones as well.
Be Aware of These Black Friday Scams
Here are a few quick things for you and your loved ones to be on the lookout for this holiday season.
Phishing Emails from Fraudulent Websites
Look out for emails asking you to update your payment method or requesting other personal information.
The emails may look very similar to something from Amazon, Walmart, or another favorite retailer, but often they are faked. The messages will have the right logos, a similar format, maybe even things like an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom, but as you can imagine, it isn’t very hard to fake this.
A few things to double check if you are skeptical of an email are:
- The Sender’s Email Address. Is the email from something like email@example.com or is the email from firstname.lastname@example.org?
A good trick is to hover your mouse over the email address or click the little down arrow beside the address to read the entirety of the information. Sometimes it may say “WalMart Support” in your inbox as the sender name, but if you hover to look at the actual email address, it is something very generic like a23ooum40dimsl@admin
- Misspellings or Poor Grammar. Can there be a typo in an email from a major retailer? Absolutely. We’re all human. But there is a difference between a simple typo and an email with multiple misspellings or sentences that seem to be written by someone who speaks English as a second language. While there is certainly no fault to those who don’t speak English with the complexity of native speaker, no major, American organization would have that person writing the public facing emails.
- Deals Too Good to be True. This one is a bit subjective, but if you get a message about a product that is unbelievably cheap, this should give you reason to pause. Black Friday deals are great, Black Friday scams are scary. If you notice a deal that seems unlikely, read our tips on fake online stores to double check what’s going on.
Avoid online gift exchanges with strangers.
The past few years have seen a rise in various versions of an online “Secret Santa” type of gift exchange. Many of these use social media, particularly Facebook, as a place to gain confidence amongst potential victims and begin to spread like a virus.
This holiday scam will claim that purchasing a $10 gift for a stranger (or something similar) will ultimately lead to you receiving hundreds of dollars worth of gifts of your own in return.
Beware of Fraudulent Charities.
It is sad but true. Scammers will take advantage of our giving spirits during the holiday season and create faux-charities.
This holiday scam involves someone calling or texting you with information about what they are raising funds for and pull at your heart strings looking for a “donation”.
The best way to avoid these fake charities is simply to donate to charities that you already know and love. If you get a call out of the blue, tell them that you’ll think about it, hang up, and look up the charity online to see if it is legitimate. Don’t let them pressure you into donating over the phone. In fact, the best protection is just to let unknown calls or text lie dormant.