1. Research the Brands You Want to Buy From
Before you start shopping for Black Friday deals, take some time to research the brands you want to buy from. This will help you determine if the product is legitimate. For example, if you want to buy a pair of AirPods from Apple, you can research the product on Apple’s website to see if it’s the real deal.
You can also check the product’s reviews to see what other customers have to say about it. If you’re not sure where to start, try searching for the product on Google. You can also check the product’s Amazon page to see if it’s the same item you’re looking for.
2. Don’t Give Out Your Credit Card Information
You should never give out your credit card information to a retailer you don’t trust. Even if you’ve researched the retailer and you’re positive they’re a legitimate company, you should still be cautious about giving out your credit card information.
If a retailer is prompting you to enter your credit card information on a Black Friday sale page, it could be an elaborate scam. Legitimate retailers don’t ask for your credit card information on their sale pages. Avoid entering your credit card information on a retailer’s Black Friday page, even if the page seems legitimate.
3. Be Cautious of Free Offers
If something seems too good to be true, chances are, it is. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, let alone a free Black Friday deal. If you see an offer for a free product or service that requires you to purchase something else, it’s most likely a scam. Legitimate retailers don’t offer products for free.
If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Before you commit to a Black Friday deal, make sure it’s legitimate. If you’re shopping online, it’s a good idea to check the website’s URL.
Scammers often create websites that are almost identical to the real website. When you visit the website, it looks like the real deal, and you might not realize that you’ve been scammed until it’s too late.
4. Watch Out For Discounted Gift Cards
You can typically spot a Black Friday scam if you spot a discounted gift card. Retailers don’t sell discounted gift cards. There’s no way for them to make a profit from gift cards, which is why they don’t offer them.
If you see a gift card being offered for a steep discount on Black Friday, it’s likely a scam. Gift cards are still worth the amount written on the card, no matter what retailer it’s from. If you see gift cards being offered at a steep discount on Black Friday, steer clear of those deals.
5. Examine User Reviews Before You Buy
If you’ve found a product you like, but you aren’t sure if it’s a scam, examine the item’s user reviews. If the product has a ton of positive reviews, you can rest easy knowing that it’s a legitimate product.
However, if the product has a low number of reviews, or most of the reviews are negative, you should be extra cautious. Chances are, the product is a scam, and you don’t want to fall for it.
If you’re shopping online, make sure to read the reviews people post on the retailer’s website. You can also look up the product on Amazon to see what its reviews are like.
6. Check Out the Store’s Track Record
Before you make any big purchases on Black Friday, make sure you’re shopping with a reputable retailer. You can check the store’s track record on sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Scam Hunter.
These sites feature reviews of different retailers and let you know how trustworthy they are. If you’re shopping online, also make sure you’re shopping on a secure website. You can check a website’s security by looking for the “lock” symbol in your browser’s address bar.
If you’re shopping at a physical store, make sure the store is in good standing. You can do this by visiting the BBB’s website to see if the store has any complaints against it. If you don’t see any complaints listed against the store, you can still ask an employee to see if the store has a clean track record.
7. Avoid Shopping on Websites You Don’t Know Or Trust
Even if a website has a ton of positive reviews and you’ve checked the store’s track record, you should still avoid shopping there. Websites can easily be set up by scammers, and you don’t want your personal information falling into the wrong hands.
Before you make any big purchases on Black Friday, you should make sure the website is legitimate. If a website doesn’t have a physical address and/or a phone number, you should steer clear of it.
You can also look up the website’s legitimacy on sites like the BBB website. Make sure you avoid shopping on websites that have bad reviews or low credibility.
8. Know the basics of Black Friday scams
Before you start shopping for Black Friday deals, make sure you’re aware of the most common scams. For example, you might receive an email from a major retailer that says you’ve won a free shopping spree.
You’re told you have to wire money to cover the taxes on your free shopping spree. This is a scam, and you shouldn’t fall for it. Another common scam is retailers advertising heavily discounted gift cards. If you see a discounted gift card for a retailer you trust, don’t let the fear of scams keep you from buying a gift card.
The scams mentioned above are just the basics of Black Friday scams. You can also spot a scam if a retailer is selling products that are out of season or products that are typically found at a different retailer. If a retailer is selling products that don’t make sense, it’s likely a scam.
9. Be extra cautious when buying electronics on Black Friday
If you’re planning on purchasing new electronics on Black Friday, be extra cautious. Scammers often sell counterfeit electronics to unsuspecting shoppers during the holiday season.
If you see a deal for a massive discount on a new electronic, be extra cautious. Make sure the retailer you’re buying from is reputable and that the sale is legitimate before you commit to the purchase.
10. Don’t click on suspicious ads or emails
When you’re shopping online, be wary of clicking on ads or emails that promise you the best deals of the year. Scammers make money by getting you to click on those ads, which can lead to malware or other unwanted software on your computer.
If you’re unsure about an ad or email, don’t click on it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You can also report any suspicious ads or emails to your local Internet service provider or the Federal Trade Commission.
11. Use a credit card with zero liability protection
Shopping online can be daunting, especially when you’re making large purchases. For added peace of mind, opt for a credit card that offers zero liability protection. This type of credit card acts as a shield against fraud, especially if your card information has been stolen.
In some cases, the credit card company will reimburse you for any fraudulent charges. If the retailer you’re shopping from is a trusted brand, you may also be able to dispute the charges if something goes wrong with your order. To find a good credit card to shop with this holiday season, check out our credit card finder.
12. Check product reviews before making a purchase
Before you make a purchase on Black Friday, check out product reviews from your favorite stores’ customers. Not only will you have a better idea of what you’re purchasing, but you’ll also have insight into the store’s customer service.
If a product has a low review score—or no reviews at all—it may be a red flag. Whether it’s the wrong size, poor quality, or doesn’t live up to the promise made on the site, you don’t want to risk purchasing a product that doesn’t meet your needs.
While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to see if any stores have been accused of being a scam. Sites like Scam.com and The BBB Scam Tracker can help you find out if a retailer is trustworthy.
13. Don’t make any payment until you’ve received your order
This is one of the most important tips on our list. If you’re shopping online and a retailer asks for any form of payment before your order has been shipped, it might be a scam. Don’t make any payment until you’ve physically received the product.
This includes gift cards, subscription services, or anything else that involves an upfront or recurring payment. You can also sign up to track your packages online with apps like Packages or GovDelivery.
If you paid with a credit card, you can also place a hold on your payment for up to 120 days. This gives you added protection against fraudulent charges as you wait for your order to arrive. If the order doesn’t arrive, you can dispute the charges and receive a full refund.
14. Watch out for shipping dates and conditions
The best sales have the worst shipping conditions. Yes, you want to get in on the best deals of the year, but don’t let subpar shipping conditions sway you from making a purchase. If a retailer gives you an estimated shipping date that’s before Black Friday, it might be a scam.
Most legitimate retailers will have your order in transit before Black Friday, as they want to get the product to you in time for the holiday rush.
To be extra safe, make sure to check the retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. If you see any asterisks or fine print, it’s likely there are special conditions attached to your return.
15. Watch out for fake discounts and product giveaways.
If you’re looking for the best Black Friday deals and don’t want to get scammed, you should definitely steer clear of any product giveaways. Retailers love to create hype around their sales with fake product giveaways that either require you to sign up for a paid subscription service or enter your credit card info.
If you see a product or URL that says “click here to win,” “enter now,” or “enter your email address to win,” don’t click on it. You’ll likely end up with a subscription service that you don’t want or a popup box that asks for your credit card information.
16. Double-check pricing before you buy.
It’s always a good idea to double-check the price of an item before you make a purchase. If you see a deal on a laptop or TV that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to cross-check the price on different retailers’ websites.
Some retailers will have an inflated price on their website so that you’ll click on it and then find out the price has dropped. This is called a “price trap,” and it’s especially common with retailers like Amazon. Don’t fall for it! To be extra sure, check the price on Google Shopping to see if any other retailers are also offering a lower price.
17. Check the product’s authenticity
If you’re looking to buy anything on Black Friday, whether it’s a laptop, a pair of shoes, or a brand new TV, it’s a good idea to check the product’s authenticity. Don’t take the seller’s word for it, and don’t just look at the model numbers—which can easily be faked.
Instead, look up the product’s barcode on a site like eBay or Amazon to see if it’s actually what it says it is. If you’re buying a product from a private seller, you can also ask for the product’s serial number to check for authenticity. This is particularly useful when purchasing a used item.
18. Don’t be afraid to walk away.
As tempting as it might be to snag a few good deals on Black Friday, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to buy anything you don’t want or need. If a retailer is offering a deal that doesn’t seem right, walk away.
If a retailer is offering a deal on a product that you know is low quality, walk away. If you’re shopping online, don’t feel pressured to make a purchase just because it’s Black Friday. If a retailer is offering a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If you don’t see a deal that you like or think is worth your money, then walk away. You don’t have to get suckered in by the hype.
19. Don’t be fooled by “too good to be true” deals
As we’ve already discussed, Black Friday deals can be great, but they can also be misleading. Retailers often inflate the prices of products leading up to Black Friday to make their sales look even better.
Sometimes these inflated prices are listed on the retailer’s website, and sometimes they aren’t. Don’t be fooled by inflated prices or retailers that don’t have their normal deals listed. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
There you have it—our top 19 tips on how to avoid Black Friday scams and shop like a pro. Shop smart this holiday season, and you’ll be sure to get the best deals without getting scammed.