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 Nov. 24.
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 watch shoppers leaving 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 GoogleWallet. 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.
Your Turn: Do you have any other tips for safe shopping on Black Friday Cyber Monday? Share them with us in the comments!