HOUSTON – Black Friday is less than two weeks away, so it's time to take note of the scams that seem to pop up every holiday season.
If you search the web for “Black Friday” you’ll come up with thousands of websites ready to deliver good deals. Sure, it’s likely the first few pages are probably nothing to worry about, but after that things may get a little tricky. Scammers often use the term “Black Friday” to gain your trust—after all, that’s the day we’re supposed to get a deal that sounds too good to be true, right?
Watch out for these tricks and scams:
>> Used gift cards: Look up reviews for any 3rd-party seller offering used gift cards for sale. The FBI warns cards reported as stolen can later be disabled, leaving you with a worthless piece of plastic.
>> “One day only” bargain e-mails: If you receive any unsolicited Black Friday e-mail, don’t click the links, and don’t give them your credit card number. It’s most likely part of some kind of phishing scam.
>> Fake auctions / classified ads: Just like with the used gift cards, make sure the seller is legit by doing a Google search of their name, username, e-mail address, or anything that might point to something suspicious.
>> Steeply discounted electronics stores: No online store is going to sell an iPad for $10. You won’t find new digital cameras for $5. There are dozens of “fake” online electronics stores that don’t even have an inventory, and they won’t ship you anything you order. They’re only out to get your credit card number.
>> Parking lot bait and switch: Don’t buy electronics from strangers that approach you in a parking lot. It’s always a scam. Always. Often someone will approach you with some wild story about how they need to sell “this $1,000 laptop” or “these $1,000 speakers” fast. The price is usually only $100 to $200, but when you’re back home with the box you’ll find they switched it on you and there’s nothing inside. Some crooks are so sophisticated, they’ve figured out how to re-wrap packages in plastic. So what looks like an unopened iPad is actually a box with some notepads inside to weight it down.