Cyber Monday is Here: Cautionary Tales for Your Wallet


Avoid scams, markups, and identity theft while shopping for holiday deals.

Black Friday is known for being dangerous. With large crowds, misleading sales, and predatory businesses, there’s a lot you have to look out for. It’s no wonder people are turning to online shopping during the big holiday shopping season.

In 2018 more people shopped online than in-store for Black Friday. In fact, 6.4 million more people shopped online than in-store from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2018. That’s not exactly a close call. That number is significant.

This Cyber Monday, 68.7 million shoppers say they plan to break out their wallets for online deals.

Cyber Monday is appealing for a lot of reasons: You don’t have to wait in lines and can shop from the comfort of your own home. You can do your research instead of making impulsive decisions in store. Who wouldn’t prefer Cyber Monday?

But you must look out when shopping online, too. This article will cover the ways you have to ensure you’re shopping safely for that new TV.

Misleading sales

Just like for Black Friday, many online stores will mislead you in the way they sell items.

For example, they may create urgency and false scarcity by putting time limits on sales or claiming they only have a certain number of items. But is it a better risk to waste money by making an impulsive purchase, or to buy it for a few bucks more at a later time when the item is no longer on sale? We would argue the latter. There are always more sales. There are always discounts and coupons that you can find.

Just like with Black Friday, stores often increase the prices of items about to go on sale. This will make the discount seem bigger than it really is. For example, an item might normally be $10, then raise to $12 right before a big sale, then drop in price 40%. While that may seem like a big discount, $7.50 is only a few dollars less than $10, and the deal is not worth spending money impulsively.

Some retailers may even actually increase prices on the day of Cyber Monday.

Tracking the prices of items that you’re intending to buy is a good strategy to prepare for Cyber Monday deals. That way you’re buying items you actually need and finding the real discounts that are available.

Identity theft

Cyber Monday, just like Black Friday, is a huge day for identity theft. it’s easier to phish people who are being bombarded with sales emails, and whose guards are down. And since people are making all sorts of purchases during holiday shopping deals, it’s easier for scammers to use a debit card without being noticed.

This is prime time for double-checking your transactions. It might also be smart to use a credit card instead of a debit card for online shopping, since credit cards commonly offer more fraud protections.

It’s also smart to shop from a secure computer with a private internet connection. If you use public Wi-Fi to enter payment information, then hackers could be able to watch you do it and steal that information.

Counterfeits

Counterfeit goods are a huge problem in online shopping in general. Even Amazon admitted that it’s difficult for them to track the counterfeit and fraudulent activity of vendors on its site.

It’s easy to trick customers: Vendors use legitimate looking photos, price the item low, and then swap the item for a counterfeit good. By the time customers notice, it’s often too late. Sometimes they don’t receive the item at all.

During holiday spending season, the problem sometimes gets worse as counterfeiters try to take advantage of stressed-out families seeking a deal. In fact, in 2019 “the amount of e-commerce related phishing websites accessed during the online shopping season has more than doubled since November 2018.”

Too-good-to-be-true deals might also be harder to spot during a time when all stores seem to be offering wild discounts. But most Cyber Monday deals are not in the hundreds of dollars, so if you see something outrageous, it’s probably false.

You should also research the vendors and make sure you’re buying the item from a legitimate, authorized source.

High shipping prices

Sometimes, if there’s an exceptionally great deal, the shipping prices can turn a good deal into a rip-off.

Some people say that you shouldn’t pay for shipping at all, and you should only agree to deals that include free shipping. Many major stores offer free shipping around this time of year, so if the place you’re buying from doesn’t, that’s a sign to try out another retailer.

Safe shopping!

Cyber Monday can be a wonderful time of great deals and holiday present shopping from the comfort of your home. You can make some really smart buys and avoid taking out loans or cash advances, or even using your credit card, to pay for presents. Just like anything, you must be aware of the downfalls of shopping on Cyber Monday and avoid misleading sales, identity theft, counterfeit items, and high shipping prices.

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