The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, is the official start of the holiday shopping season. It is also one of the most popular shopping days of the year. Hundreds of companies sell items at a loss in order to encourage shoppers to visit their stores, enabling shoppers to buy highly sought-after merchandise at a low price. Many websites have even leaked Black Friday advertisements long before they’re available through traditional means. Unfortunately, the hype surrounding Black Friday has made it a prime target for scam artists.
Some scams are made by retailers themselves. For example, some retailers will list Black Friday “sales” for models that are of a lower retail price than other, more expensive models with similar specs. This way they’ll claim an item is being sold at a 50 percent discount, when in reality that specific model has always cost the advertised price. Retailers also often will mark up their prices in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, just so they can offer them at a “discount” later. In order to avoid this type of price manipulation, you should always research an item online to figure out its actual value.
Sometimes retailers will advertise a sale for extremely low-priced items, but only stock a tiny handful of the merchandise in question. When a shopper arrives at the store, the advertised item is sold out and shoppers are guided toward much more expensive merchandise instead. For example, last year Wal-Mart advertised a $500 40-inch LCD TV, but only stocked four of the item on the shelves; hundreds of shoppers arrived expecting a chance at the item, but their time was wasted by the dishonest marketing strategy.
In other cases, the Black Friday ads leaked on the internet are actually falsified. Many people may see an ad and plan to purchase a product, only to arrive at the store and realize the item is not on sale for that price. Before planning to buy an item on Black Friday, be sure to double-check the sales ad against the retailer’s website, or call the store to make sure that the item will be sold for the price you’ve seen it advertised at.
Some false advertisements have also circulated on Facebook or other social networking sites. These sites claim to provide discounts on merchandise or offer coupons that can be used for Black Friday, but once you actually investigate the link they are actually nothing more than endless surveys that may be used to obtain your personal information.
Many people are choosing to avoid the crowds by doing their holiday shopping from home. Black Friday shopping online presents its own set of dangers, however, especially if you’re shopping from a site other than a major retailer’s home page. Many of these sites are loaded with viruses or malware, or are designed to steal your personal information. In some cases, the product never arrives at your home at all, or else the product that arrives is very different from what you’d expected. If you choose to buy Black Friday merchandise online, be sure that the site is properly secured and is a legitimate retailer.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday can both be an excellent way to save money and buy great products at low prices. They can also be a way for scam artists to steal your money or encourage you to buy products that you had no intention of buying. By doing your research in advance and sticking to your list, you can be sure to get the best possible value for your Black Friday shopping without falling victim to the cut-throat schemes of dubious advertisers or identity thieves.
Before you buy anything this Cyber Monday ask yourself “Do I really need this?” or “Can I afford this?”