Black Friday Shopping Safety Tips
Black Friday is typically the largest and most anticipated sale day of the year! How did this tradition start? There are two widely accepted origin tales surrounding Black Friday:
- In the past, retailers who spent most of the year in debt — aka “in the red” — would often catch up with holiday sales on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Because they finally earned a profit, these sellers would now be “in the black!” Considering that the average holiday shopper plans to spend nearly $1,000 on holiday gifts1 in 2021, this explanation is totally believable.
- Picture this: 1950s Philadelphia, the streets mobbed with retail customers on the day after Thanksgiving. Legend has it that local cops nicknamed the day Black Friday because they were always forced to work overtime — a total bummer when you’d rather be home eating leftover turkey!
Regardless of the day’s origins, it wasn’t until the 1980s when clever retailers turned Black Friday into a must-do event. Cyber Monday was popularized by online shops a couple of decades later and it really took off. Adobe even forecasted a record-breaking $207 billion sales day on Cyber Monday 2021!2
Shop Smart, Stay Safe
Are you ready for the rush? Armed with a plan and some careful budgeting, Black Friday is a great time to get some (or all!) of your holiday shopping done without breaking the bank.
Before you whip out your card and start charging, here are a few important credit card safety tips to remember:
- Consider Using Credit: You might have the cash already budgeted out in your debit account, but using your credit card instead for holiday purchases could be worthwhile. Why? With a credit card, fraudulent charges are easy to report, and creditors typically have a straightforward process for disputing purchases. While banks and credit unions typically offer protection to debit cardholders that limits liability in the event of fraud, it may take time to recover any lost funds. Check in advance to see if your financial institution has Fraud Protection Alerts enabled — if so, they may contact you to confirm any suspicious charges. (Just make certain that you update your contact information with your financial institution so these alerts can reach you!)
- Say Bye-Bye to Wi-Fi: Shopping Online? Don’t use public Wi-Fi. It’s less secure than a private, password-protected network. It’s also easier for hackers to get their mittens on your personal information when you shop online using a public network. .
- Don’t Open It: Before you click on a sale email, make sure it’s from a trusted retailer. If you don’t already have the sender in your contacts list, check the email address against the company’s website address to ensure they match. Delete any Black Friday/Cyber Monday emails from unrecognizable sources.
- Check the Security Badge: If you’re taking advantage of Cyber Monday, be cautious when you visit a shopping site you haven’t purchased from in the past or enter your personal information at checkout. Secure websites will typically have https:// in the URL. If not, look for a padlock icon next to the URL. Click on the padlock to see if the website is secure (it should say something like, “Connection is secure” if it’s safe to proceed). You can identify a secure checkout by right-clicking and selecting Properties > Details. SSL should be listed as the security type.
- Keep Your Receipts: Store your receipts in a separate, secure place OR have them all emailed/texted to you. This way, you can go back later and check your receipts against your billing statements to make sure all of the purchases made were legit. You may also need your receipt for returns or to dispute an incorrect charge with your credit card issuer.
- Lose Your Card?: Report a lost or stolen debit/credit card to your creditor immediately and have them freeze or cancel your card. By acting quickly, you may be able to limit your liability for the fraudulent charges.
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Don’t forget to take some basic precautions, too. Bring water and a snack in case you get caught waiting in long lines. Don’t leave personal belongings unattended or stash purchases in the car where would-be thieves can see them. Limit who you give your personal information to. And lastly, consider bringing a friend with you to shopping malls or crowded department stores.
If you’re careful, Black Friday can be one of the most productive shopping days of the season. Just keep our safety tips close at hand, only bring the essentials — and then shop till you drop!