With the average Canadian planning to spend approximately $340 during Black Friday, the trendy American shopping day is growing in popularity among Canadians. Though the hunt for the perfect gift is exciting for some, the hustle and bustle of crowded malls and popular online retailers can also be prime pickings for scammers preying on distracted shoppers.
“From pick-pockets in crowded malls to cyber criminals phishing for your information, it’s easy for anyone to become a target during the busy holiday shopping season,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen. “Eager holiday shoppers can get caught up in their purchases, which makes it easy to overlook important warning signs.”
Be a savvy shopper both in stores and online this Black Friday with these BBB tips:
Shopping in the store:
- Start your search with trust. Go to bbb.org to look for BBB Business Reviews of your favorite retailers.
- Do not buy more than you can carry. Pickpockets are watching for shoppers bogged down with bags or who are busy with kids. Those who seem unaware of their surroundings make for easy targets for scammers looking to swipe your wallet or purchases.
- Use bags, purses and backpacks with zippers. Secure your valuables by keeping them zipped up. Bags with flaps or open pouches may be convenient, but they’re easily accessible to anyone.
- Secure your phone and your wallet. Don’t keep your valuables in your back pocket. Instead, keep them secure in an inside coat pocket or zipped bag. Also consider using a password protection on your phone. In case it is lost or stolen, your phone’s content can’t be accessed.
- Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or check book. A thief would love to shoulder surf to get your personal information. Secure your information until you are required to use it.
- Always put your debit and credit cards back in your wallet. After each purchase, be sure to put your cards back securely in your wallet. It’s easy to become distracted or rushed while shopping and lose sight of your cards.
Online shopping is a convenient option for consumers looking to avoid crowded malls this holiday season, but BBB warns there are cyber Grinches out there looking to take advantage of gift-givers.
- Start your search with trust. Go to bbb.org to look for BBB Business Reviews of your favorite online retailers.
- Look for “https”. On the payment page, look for “https” at the beginning of the address (the “s” stands for “secure”).
- Look for legitimate logos. Scammers often use realistic looking logos from recognized and established retailers. Look for slight misspellings of business names, variations of logos or URLs to spot fake websites before making a purchase.
- Contact the business directly. Verify payment/shipping/refund policies as well as their location by contacting the business directly before making your purchase.
- Use a credit card. Never wire money to people or businesses you don’t know. Instead pay with a credit card for added fraud protection. You can dispute charges if there are any unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have zero-liability policies if someone steals and uses your card number. Check your credit card statement regularly for unauthorized charges.
- Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order, account or a package to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. When in doubt, contact the business directly to confirm the issue.
- Protect your computer. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly.