Supply chain issues, shipping delays and ongoing concerns about the pandemic have added to the stress and scarcity level of this year’s holiday shopping season. This may result in some consumers falling into fraud deals or purchasing products that are not quite what they expected.
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Here’s how to avoid the unbelievable Black Friday deal — and how to get the real best deals this holiday season.
Get ready before you shop
You are your best defense against being scammed or deceived into purchasing an item that is not what you think it is.
Before you shop, figure out your budget for holiday gifts and make a list of exactly what you want. The unique challenges of holiday shopping in 2021 — recent supply chain issues, persistent microchip shortages and late delivery times — may tempt you to go for a bargain the moment you see it. Don’t let the fear of missing out on a must-have lead you to make hasty purchases.
“Scarcity is a persuasion tactic used by both legitimate and fraudulent retailers,” says Amy Nofziger, director of fraud victim support at AARP. “It’s the impulse to buy that gets us into trouble.”
For example, if you’re in a market for electronics like a TV, pin the model numbers of the items on your list. This can help you avoid the so-called “derived” model. These products, which are usually sold only during the holidays, may look similar to the item you’re considering and are listed hundreds of dollars less. catch? These cheaper versions are generally of lower quality, which makes it a worse deal than it seems at first glance.
“Do your research to make sure this is the product and quality you were expecting,” Nofziger says. “Don’t let the noise of Black Friday control your cognitive thinking.”
Learn the tricks of scammers
Like issuing a necessary tool, scammers are constantly repeating new tricks and spreading them to the masses in hopes of getting your money or personal information.
Once your shopping list is ready, protect yourself by knowing about these scams.
Social media ads
As you scroll and scroll through posts in your Facebook or Instagram feeds, be on the lookout for scam ads as well. Social media companies may not thoroughly vet every ad on their platforms, so the promotions you see for the latest gaming console or trendy sneakers can actually be bait from scammers.
“We hear about people buying an item [they see on social media] And not getting the item, or getting it, is completely different,” says Nofziger. “Then the seller won’t respond.”
What you can do: Before you make a purchase from a company that advertised to you in your social media feeds, check it out to see if it’s legit. This means checking the website to see if it looks trustworthy, looking if the company has a physical address and checking if it sells more products than you’ve seen advertised. Failure to meet any of these criteria may be a red flag for a fraudulent advertisement.
Even if the company is legit, go further and check for customer complaints. Google the company’s name plus the word “complaint” to see what consumers said about it. Consumer Reports can be a helpful resource here, too.
And when shopping online, use your credit card if possible. That’s because credit cards tend to have some fraud protection that debit cards and peer-to-peer payment methods don’t. If a company asks you to pay with a gift card or a peer-to-peer payment company like Venmo or Cash App, that could also be a red flag for a scam company.
Highly targeted phishing emails
You get an exclusive deal email, just for you. The email says, since you have shopped from a specific retailer, you are eligible to receive a special offer. Or, you may have just purchased a car, and you will receive an email saying that you have been selected to receive a discount on its accessories. So you click on the retailer’s landing page, enter your personal information – and – poof – you just got scammed.
With the help of bits of your personal data, scammers send personalized emails that can trick you into providing your login credentials or banking information, says Rob Schaeffel, CEO of online privacy firm DeleteMe. The email and landing page may be mocked to look identical to the actual retailer’s designs.
“these [scam emails] It is powered by consumer data sets,” says Schaffel. Your personally identifiable information, or PII, which includes things like your name, address and even social media posts, can be collected by data brokers in consumer data sets and then sold to fraudsters and others.
According to DeleteMe, the amount of personally identifiable information found on the Internet more than doubled from 2018 to 2020. The amount of information available about you on the Internet makes it easy for scammers to get rid of these personalized emails.
What you can do: Be on the lookout for emails with an unusual amount of personalization and check the sender before clicking any embedded links.
“Usually when it comes to email for shopping, people are lacking in knowledge,” Schaffel says. “If you receive an email from your bank, you should probably check it again. The average consumer rarely does this with a shopping deal.”
While scammers can mimic the design of retailers’ email messages, they cannot hide their email address. Before clicking any links, check the sender’s email address on any promotional email you receive to verify its source. Scammers may use an email address that contains one letter of the original email address in the hope that you won’t notice.
No matter what scam you encounter, if you fall victim to one of them, report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and your state attorney general.
Fang (real) deals when you can
With your shopping list prepared, your budget sorted out and alerted of potential scams, work on getting holiday deals when you can.
“I think consumers interested in getting those deals would benefit from shopping early because of the supply chain shortage,” says Vicki Morwitz, Bruce Greenwald Professor of Business and Professor of Marketing at Columbia University Graduate School of Business. “Products may not be available later, and we expect shipping to be slower this year as well.”
Morwitz says that like last year, the best sales won’t be limited to one day. Instead, expect to find deals that appear earlier over a longer period of time.
“If you do your research and see that he checks these different boxes, go get this great deal,” says Nofziger.
Also, revise the proven methods for getting the best deals when shopping online. In addition to having your budget on hand, use coupons when available and work towards rewards when you shop.
The article How to Check Vacation Deals and Avoid Scams was originally featured on NerdWallet.