How Can I Shop Safely On Black Friday?

Q: I love Black Friday but I worry about the risks. With the possibility of being trampled or of my credit card being compromised, there’s so much that can go wrong! How can I protect myself without missing out on the biggest shopping day of the year.

A: Black Friday does pose some serious risks to shoppers, but with the proper safety measures, you can happily join the bargain-hungry crowds on November 24.

Here’s how:

1.) Plan ahead

Planning ahead means you’ll spend less, be out of line faster and decrease your risks. Sites like BlackFriday.com can help you plan your day and find the best deals.

2.) Credit card only

Credit cards are the best way to shop when there are high risks to your safety. You can always dispute a charge; you can never reclaim stolen cash. Also, keep your card as close to you as possible. If using a debit card, cover the payment terminal with your other hand when inputting your PIN. 

3.) Shop with a friend

The mall may be crowded, but a determined criminal can find a way to corner you and empty your wallet or take your bags. Stick with your friends and never enter deserted areas alone.

4.) Keep your cool

Nothing you can purchase on Black Friday is worth your health or safety. Avoid all scuffles with fellow shoppers.

5.) Move your car

If you spend the day at the mall and routinely drop off your bags in your car, it’s best to move your car to a different spot. Thieves may be watching shoppers leave the mall with lots of bags and follow them to their cars. If they see you dropping off your goodies and then heading back to the mall, they’ll consider making off with your things. If you drive off, though, they’ll think you’re leaving and won’t follow you.

6.) Online safety

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are notorious for online scams of every kind. Here’s what to remember when shopping online:

  • Beware of phishing scams

Be alert for suspicious looking emails and links. Delete anything that doesn’t look right.

  • Make sure your connection is secure

Verify security by looking for the padlock icon on the address bar and by using sites with an “S” tacked on to the “http.”

  • Pay securely

Only use trusted payment systems like PayPal or Google Wallet. Shop from sites you trust and make sure they’re legitimate by checking the URL and looking out for sites that end in .org or .net. Never agree to wire money for a purchase.

  • Strengthen your system

Before shopping online, check that your device’s security systems are updated with the most recent protection and security patches. If you’re using Wi-Fi, make sure the network is secure and requires a password to join.

 Now that you’re armed with tips to tackle Black Friday, do you have any other tips for safe shopping this time of year? Share them with us in the comments!

8 Tips to Steal the Best Deals on Black Friday

If yoblackfridaygraphicu’ve ever shopped on Black Friday, you know the frenzy of shoppers can often resemble the scene from The Hunger Games when the tributes fight for the best supplies. Black Friday shopping is not for the faint-hearted and requires strategic planning for success. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to arm yourself for the competition ahead. Happy Shopping! And may the odds be ever in your favor!

  • Make a game plan
    • Create a list of where you want to go and what you want to buy using apps, websites, and inserts from the daily newspaper. Apps like Black Friday Shopping compile all the Black Friday deals for you by retailer and category. Many stores’ apps can even guide you through their store as you’re walking around the aisles. Websites, such as tgiblackfriday.com and theblackfriday.com, are also great resources to compare prices and find the best bargains.
  • Research the products you want to buy
    • Make sure the products you’re interested in buying are actually quality products. A bad product isn’t worth the deal no matter how cheap it is. Check out online peer reviews in addition to expert reviews from consumerreports.org and goodhousekeeping.com.
  • Get an early start
    • If you snooze, you lose. To ensure you get everything on your list, head to the stores early or even before they open in case there’s a line at the door (there probably will be).
  • Bring a friend or family member
    • A friend or family member can keep you company while you’re waiting in line and serve as an extra pair of hands to grab everything on your shopping list.
  • Focus on electronics, not clothing
    • Many consumer electronics are at their lowest prices of the year on Black Friday. Clothing, shoes and accessories, on the other hand, are not. If you do decide to shop for clothing, don’t settle for anything less than 40% off the full retail price.
  • Bring store ads with you
    • Many stores offer a “lowest-price guarantee” on advertised items provided you show the ad as proof. Taking advantage of this deal could save you a trip to another store for that same item.
  • Don’t forget a gift receipt
    • If you’re purchasing holiday gifts, ask the cashier for a gift receipt to make returns or exchanges easier for the recipient. The receipt will have a description of the item, but won’t disclose the price.
  • Shop from the comfort of your home
    • If you’re not up for the Black Friday craziness, you can still shop online and find great deals. According to Dan de Grandpre, CEO of DealNews.com, “70% of Black Friday door busters were available, at least briefly, at the store’s websites.”

Stay tuned for tips on Cyber Monday shopping!