The 5 Top Black Friday and Cyber Monday Scams To Look Out For This Year

Worried concerned girl in Christmas Santa hat having problems with payment by credit card online for New Year purchases, looking at smartphone screen with puzzled face.
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Scammers are always figuring out new ways to con online shoppers, but during the season of giving (and of buying) they tend to be extra aggressive. Consumers need to be especially vigilant so as to avoid being sucked into these scams, according to McAfee.

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Fake Order Confirmation Scams

Shoppers may lose track of just how many packages they’ve got in transit. Scammers take advantage of this weak spot and send out phony order confirmations to one’s inbox or phone, via text. The messages contain either a downloadable attachment (likely a way of injecting malware onto your computer) or as a link to a bogus website designed to steal personal information.

Keep tabs on your orders and if you can’t remember if you bought something from a particular retailer, go straight to their site and check your order history there.

Fake Tracking Number Scams

In this scenario, scammers send out a phony package tracking notification, typically by email. (Usually these emails include the information in a link or attachment, so that’s your first giveaway, as retailers don’t do this). Consumers should not download the attachment — it’s likely a way to inject malware onto one’s device. Links should also be dodged because they route consumers to sites that can steal personal information.

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If you’re looking for tracking information on a recent purchase, head straight to the source (retailer) you bought from and check your order history.

Typosquatting Scams

Scammers are known to “typosquat” phony email addresses and URLs that look almost exactly like those belonging to legitimate businesses. Don’t download anything in these emails or click on any links. Again, when in doubt, always go to the retailer’s site directly.

Fake Deal Alert Scams

Got your heart set on a gaming console that’s sold out, or on a super popular toy that is flying off store shelves? You may be the perfect target for a fake deals scam. In this scenario, bad actors create phony websites (often using the typosquatting technique) to lure consumers into buying a product that doesn’t exist. Instead, they’ll pocket your money and, what’s worse, steal your personal info to do even more damage.

To avoid this scam, don’t click on any suspicious links and head straight to legitimate retailer sites to see if the product you’ve been eyeing is actually in stock.

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Fake Charity Scams

The end of year is a peak time to make donations to charities (not only because of the holidays, but also due to tax benefits attached to making a charitable donation). Scammers pose as charitable organizations and solicit donations from well-meaning consumers. Typically, they’ll ask for a donation via a gift card or wire transfer (or even in cryptocurrency) — all tough to track once the money is gone. To find out if a charity is legit, look them up on Charity Navigator and only donate by going directly to the site.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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