It feels like a lifetime ago when Black Friday was an event that had the entire world marking their calendars and queing (camping) outside their favorite department stores at the crack of dawn. But, although we’ve come a long way since the unruly consumerism and chaotic Black Friday hysteria of 2012 – it is still an event that causes people to overspend and fall victim to big black ‘50% OFF’ signage. The only difference is that, today, the tricks of the trade (and we mean tricks) are occurring more frequently online.
This year, consumers will be participating in Black Friday sales online more than ever before. And, this will unfortunately leave more room for scams and ‘too good to be true’ discounts. Luckily, there are a few ways you can take precaution both online and in store. So, before you add to cart, or go busting down store doors, have a look at our Black Friday safety tips so you can make the most of this year’s frenzy.
The Truth About Black Friday: A Little History You Should Know
It’s quite puzzling that the world doesn’t often question the names behind some of the biggest events in global society. Especially if it’s catchy enough. But, the truth is, that the origin of Black Friday has nothing to do with Christmas shopping. The term was first established all the way back in 1869, marking the day that gold prices plummeted and caused one of the biggest market crashes in US history.
However, the first mention of Black Friday as we know it is said to be coined by traffic officers in Philadelphia during the 1950s. The term was used to describe the heavy traffic jams and crowding of retail stores which naturally, traffic officers dreaded. And, then, Black Friday first appeared in print in a 1966 issue of the American Philatelist – a magazine for stamp collectors.
Of course, with Black Friday being one of their biggest revenue days of the year, retailers didn’t love the negative connotation. So, they put a positive spin on it. They even went as far to change it’s name to ‘Big Friday’ in order to solidify it as a day of family fun and shopping. However, it didn’t stick. But, as these things go, continued efforts eventually paid off and today most consumers associate Black Friday with the ‘black ink’ that retailers see from increased sales.
6 Black Friday Safety Tips: Some Online Shopping Reminders
We hate to break anyone’s dreams, but the saying ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ most certainly applies to Black Friday deals. No matter how long you’ve been wanting that 65 inch flat screen for, you should always do your research and validate every discount, deal, and special you come across. Most of the guidelines below are (hopefully) common knowledge. But, these reminders could also just save you from succumbing to the Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) consumer chaos. Here are a few of our Black Friday safety tips that will help you survive this wild ride:
1. Research Those Too Good To Be True – Type of Discounts
Seeing an item you’ve always wanted marked down a couple hundred bucks is one of the hardest tests the universe can send you. And, maybe it’s legit, and maybe it isn’t. The only way to find out is through research. Start by looking up the seller or retailer and try to find reviews made by other customers. You can also use a scam tracker app or website to validify the business.
Top Tip: If you don’t find any bad reviews, that’s actually a red flag! Even the most reputable and well-known stores/retailers have bad some bad reviews.
2. Use A Credit Card
We know this kind of sounds like bad advice, but you’ll thank us later! Although you can perform as much research as you want to, you can never be 100% sure about a seller. But, that hardly stops anyone from making an online purchase. In the case that the seller never delivers, refuses you a refund, or makes illicit purchases with your card, you can report the fraud to your credit card provider. But, you do need to stay on top of things. As soon as it’s clear you are not going to receive what you purchased, report/dispute the fraud immediately!
3. Email Links to Deals To Your Computer For a Better Look
Have you ever received an sms from an unknown number with a link to a ‘not to be missed’ – deal? We hope you haven’t clicked on it! Because ‘smishing’ is real (phishing via sms). Clicking on any link from an unfamiliar sender is a bad idea in general. However, scammers get extra creative with clickbait during shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you do want to check out the link, try to view it on your laptop or computer instead. It’s a lot harder to spot a fake website on a mobile device.
4. Rather the Devil You Know
No matter how much we want to resist contributing to their plans for world domination, sticking to well-known retailers is often the best way to create a safe online shopping experience. And although start ups usually rely on offering some pretty irresistible deals to draw in new clientele, it’s not worth running the risk of being scammed.
Top Tip: Fraudsters usually put up pages that look identical to another major retailer. Watch out for typos and URLs that look even slightly different!
5. Look For the Lock in the Link
Any and every legitimate website should have a secure HTTPS connection. This means that you should see a little lock icon in the address bar when you visit a link. Chrome often sends a message to notify you that a website is not secure, but still look out for the lock icon to be certain.
6. Avoid Oversharing
It should never be required to provide your social security number to complete your checkout. Be wary when sellers ask for more information than they need. If a site’s checkout includes data fields that don’t seem necessary, pause, and, no matter how much you want that new air fryer, reconsider.
Be Smart This Black Friday
There are many other precautions to consider before you sit in anticipation for the clock to strike 12. But, we hope these tips will help you make smart online shopping decisions. And, hey, we aren’t judging you for wanting to take part in mass consumerism – we’re having a Black Friday sale too! Spoiling your loved ones is a significant part of the holiday season, so if you can save a buck or two, why not? With precaution and a little bit of willpower, your Black Friday shopping will be a success!
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Alex is a hopeless romantic who was supposed to be born in Italy (her dream destination), but proud to be South African nonetheless. She lives by her heart, and, consequentially, leaves a little bit of herself in everything she writes. She wholeheartedly believes that mermaids (and fairies) exist and is deathly afraid of the age ’30’.