24 Black Friday Shopping Safety Tips

Posted November 10th, 2023 by SimpliSafe

Original publish date: 26th October 2020 Last updated: 10th October 2023

How to stay safe when Black Friday shopping: both online and at home

Every year in the run-up to the festive season, retailers around the globe join in with the Black Friday marketing campaign to encourage people to shop in their store or on their website with enticingly good deals. But before you embark on the fun-filled, bargain hunt bonanza of an online shopping weekend, it’s important to make sure you’re protecting yourself from any potential scammers as well as protecting your newly-bought goods once they’re in your home.

Even if you have a home security system, there are more precautions you could take to ensure you’re shopping safely during the Black Friday period. Our guide will give you practical tips for Black Friday safety whilst shopping online, in-store and how to could keep your buys safe at home too.

Black Friday shopping safety tips

Online shopping

It can be very easy to get carried away when enticing discounts and promotions are around for one weekend. We can also take online security for granted when we visit so many sites to make payments on, but all it takes is one dodgy company.

Safe online shopping starts with acknowledging and looking out for the secure sites over the fake or suspicious ones, then doing the vital thing of making sure your payment is secure. It’s not as tricky as it sounds, and there are quite a few simple things you can do to help protect yourself online and avoid common scams.

1. Secure shopping sites

When it comes to secure online shopping, it’s all about vetted websites. One major thing you can do to check a site’s security is by clicking the padlock icon (which should be a closed padlock to show security) before the URL in the address bar at the top of the webpage. Here you’ll be able to to view the connection’s security as well as any valid certificates. If a connection is secure, it means your information (such as passwords or credit card numbers) is kept private when sent to that site. For instance, many secure online shopping sites tend to have certificates issued by DigiCert that show these details: “Proves your identity to a remote computer. Ensures the identity of a remote computer.”

2. Spotting fakes

Many scammers try to pass as legitimate sites by stealing branding and logos and using legitimate domain names. There are a number of things to watch out for to spot a fake retailer or online scammer:

  • Many popular brands and luxury products are being sold at very low prices

  • They ask you to pay using a preloaded money card, wire transfer, money order or they don’t allow secure payment services to be used, such as PayPal or credit card

  • Search for online reviews - if there are hardly any or too many poor ones, this is a major red flag

  • They ask you to pay upfront for any vouchers before accessing a cheap deal or giveaway

  • Their contact information, delivery address, return policies and terms & conditions are hard to view or information is very limited

  • Look out for URLs that don’t have ‘s’ on the end of the ‘http’ and don’t have a closed padlock icon

3. Safer payment

There’s a reason that the major secure online payment service is called PayPal; this is your best friend for safer online transactions. Many banks also offer extra levels of security when paying online using cards, with intermediary security checks, fraud alerts as well as two-step verifications on identity details. If a site doesn’t offer you to pay with credit cards or secure online payment services, and instead offers bitcoin, wire transfers or money orders - this is a big warning sign and means you aren’t protected over other transaction methods.

4. Be wary of SMS discounts and delivery fee emails

It’s not uncommon for Black Friday deals to come through SMS - especially if you’ve signed up for them to be in the know of the latest deals. However, scammers are aware many will be doing this, and will attempt to intercept with their very own (and often believable-looking) SMS alerts with an “unbeatable” offer, typically followed by a link. 

Always check the sender before you click on any link (as well as the link itself - if it looks suspicious, don’t click it!), as it could be a phishing scam, or the site may be so believable that you do enter your bank details. Typically, the number or sender will be one you don’t recognise, and the link will likely be a shortened link.

On a similar note, fraudsters often send hoax emails claiming a fee is required for your items to be delivered. Always verify such emails directly with the delivery company and never provide payment details through email links.

5. Steer clear of non-SSL sites

We mentioned to watch out for sites without an “s” at the end of “http” and a padlock. Essentially, if you browse or shop on sites without these, you could be entering your details into a site that isn’t secure with an SSL certificate. Essentially, an SSL certificate is a tool that encrypts data on the site. Browsers like Chrome actively marks sites without the lock as “not secure” - which is a big sign to click close on that tab.

6. Don’t be tempted to overshare on social media

We get that you want to share the latest deals you bagged on social media (after all who wouldn't want to brag about that?). However, you could be inadvertently opening yourself up to some danger here, as social media posts can help burglars locate your home. You could make yourself a target especially if you've bought an item of high value. It's not worth the risk. 

On a similar note - have you ever taken part in those BuzzFeed-style questions on social media where you have to share your first and last letter of your name to get a result on a quiz? As tempting as they may be to post about, you could be giving away security information without knowing it so it's best to avoid these types of posts.

7. Use a password manager

Using the same password for every site can open yourself up to security risks after all if somebody guesses a password for one site, they'll typically be able to access all other websites with that password too.

Instead, you could create different passwords and use a password manager to store them all in one place. This way, when you go onto a website and you think you've got on your password you can simply use your password manager to input the unique password for that particular site. Plus, you won't have to remember different combinations of your password! What a headache that would be.

8. Avoid using public WI-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks often lack proper security measures, making them a playground for hackers to gain access to your online activity. Simply use your mobile data if you have a connection. Avoid making purchases or accessing sensitive information while connected to a public Wi-Fi network. If you absolutely need to access public Wi-Fi, then the following step will help you stay safe…

9. Use a VPN

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can encrypt your data, making it difficult for hackers to intercept your information. VPNs are especially useful when shopping on public Wi-Fi networks, providing an additional layer of security. We understand that deals can go in a flash and you’ll want to make your purchase as soon as possible, so absolutely use a VPN if you have no mobile data but want to connect to a public Wi-Fi network.

10. Monitor your home

Multiple Smart Wireless Indoor Cameras can be placed around your home at various points to ensure all bases are covered if the worst happens. Plus, with an outdoor camera or video doorbell, you can monitor outdoor activity and ensure whoever's coming to your door is meant to be there, i.e. your courier with your Black Friday shopping!

Online shoppers’ rights

Before we dive into in-store Black Friday shopping safety, it's worth knowing your online shoppers rights.

Just like face-to-face shopping in stores, you have consumer rights and are protected under consumer law when you shop online. The Consumer Rights Act protects your right to return any faulty goods and the Consumer Contracts Regulations gives you online cancellation rights. You also need to check with the online retailer what the returns policy is and how many days you have.

According to Which - your rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations:

  • Your right to cancel an order for goods made at a distance starts from the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods

  • Your right to cancel a service made at a distance starts the moment you enter into the contract and lasts 14 days

  • If you want to download digital content within the 14 day cancellation period you must agree to waive your cancellation rights

  • Companies are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box

In-store shopping

In-store shopping on Black Friday comes with its own health and safety risks too. Read on to find out more about staying safe during your Black Friday shopping on the high street.

1. Plan ahead

Research the stores you plan to visit and familiarise yourself with their layouts and emergency exits to ensure a swift exit in case of any emergency. After all Black Friday shopping usually calls for crowds, and with crowds comes more public safety risks such as overcrowding.

2. Travel in groups

Practice safety in numbers. Unfortunately, Black Friday and Cyber Weekend doesn't deter the potential for theft and harassment.  But if you're in a larger group, you're less likely to be approached than if you were completely alone.

3. Keep on-person valuables hidden

Be mindful of where you store purses, wallets, phones keys and other valuable items.  these personal belongings are high targets for thieves, so avoid putting them in your backpocket or bags that can be easily opened,  such as rucksacks and long satchels.

4. Be mindful

Try to stay away from incredibly crowded areas, as this can be a prime spot for theft -  especially because shoppers will be preoccupied looking at sales and trying to grab the biggest deals they can. It's also important to not display large sums of cash and public, as well as flashing designer goods you happen to get a big deal on. For the latter you could use a neutral bag to keep the contents hidden.

5. Park in a well-lit area

Dark night safety should always be practised - especially in the colder months, and this also extends to where you park. We get that you want to save money on parking, especially as car parks may be full with avid shoppers. Even if you spot a road where you know you can get free parking, if it's not well lit, you could be putting your vehicle at risk of theft. Always find an alternative car park that's well lit and manned with security instead. Alternatively, take public transport.

6. Take regular breaks

Black Friday shopping can be physically exhausting, and it's not uncommon for shoppers to faint or for injuries to happen. Take regular breaks and stay well hydrated to avoid exhaustion and potential accidents.

7. Check if a product has been recalled

If you've yourself a great deal but you've noticed that a product recall has been made on that item you bought, return it as soon as you can. Products are recalled for a reason often due to being a potential safety hazard.  Whilst you may have got a great deal, it's not worth the risk.

Protecting your discounted goods at home

So, you’ve shopped on very secure websites, made safe payments online and now you can enjoy the discounted goods you’ve bought from the whirlwind weekend of bargains. Your consumer rights are read and your new stuff is protected under them, but are they protected in your home from potential burglars? Make your home as secure as possible and protect your Black Friday buys by following these SimpliSafe steps.

1. Wireless security cameras

Firstly, do your best to make sure goods are not on obvious display; for instance, remember to keep laptops, consoles and high-tech gadgets out of sight as best you can - also hide car keys, handbags and wallets with cash spilling out!

This can be difficult to manage, especially when we find ourselves in a rush. That’s why a home security camera (like our SimpliCam) is your saviour. Have more peace of mind by having your home, goods and family watched over by yourself 24/7 with live HD video and audio monitoring for smartphones, tablets and computers. Intruder and motion alerts will also be sent to you the instant any motion is detected, so you can immediately see what’s happening and take action.

2. Home security systems

If you want to be smarter when protecting your home, consider a smarter home security system. Not only do the cameras you install give 24/7 live feeds to watch over rooms and outdoor areas, they can be vital in providing evidence to police with recordings of intrusions, as well as allowing for police dispatch to your home in the event of an incident with a monitored alarm system.

Another incredibly smart feature is in the motion detecting. The sensors are designed to capture only the unique heat signature of humans, so your pets are safe from triggering and causing false alarms.

When watching over your home whilst you’re away, if a disturbance happens, the smart alarm system will alert the police for you whilst alerting you at the same time - all is covered and gives more peace of mind if you’re often in meetings or travelling on the road.

3. Alarm sensors

Home security and alarm sensors have come a long way, there are now so many sensors you can use to help fend off intruders. Sensors can be placed at all entry points linked to one system or motion sensors can cover entire rooms - again pets can be safe from detection due to sensors only detecting the unique signature of humans.

Alarm sensors have also become so much smarter with them now being able to detect glass breaking, freezing temperatures (warning of potential bursting pipes), and water leaks as well as break-ins. Pair them with our glass-break sensors and temperature sensors to be as secure as can be.

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed on Black Friday

If the worst happens and you think you’ve fallen victim to Black Friday shopping fraud - here are some tips to help potentially retrieve your money and/or belongings.

1. Contact Your bank

If you suspect that you've been a victim of a scam, contact your bank immediately. They might be able to stop the transaction and recover your money. Do this sooner rather than later.

2. Report it to the police

Report any suspected fraud to the relevant authorities such as the police or Action Fraud in the UK. This can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scam. Be sure to note down your crime reference number so you can follow up and help the authorities locate your case as quickly as possible.

3. Change all of your passwords

It's no use changing one password. You have no idea if the scammer has access to all of them so to be safe - change all of your passwords as soon as you can. This goes for your online banking login, social media channels and online store logins

4. Keep an eye on your accounts

Once you have reported any suspection of fraud or unauthorised access to your accounts, it's worth keeping an eye on all of your accounts to ensure no further unauthorised access happens. It's also a good idea to ensure that the money goes back into your account if it has been stolen. If you suspect anything else, follow step two again.

5. Inform your retailer

Most retailers will have a process in place to ensure that if any fraudulent activity happens, they can follow the necessary steps in order to retrieve any lost funds. This should be done in tandem with contacting the authorities to ensure all bases are covered. 

Frequently asked questions about Black Friday Shopping Safety

What is Black Friday shopping?

Black Friday is always the Friday straight after Thanksgiving where retailers heavily promote the holiday shopping season by kicking it off with deals, discounts and promotions. It’s also notorious for showing chaotic scenes at supermarkets and stores where crowds of shoppers gather and compete to snatch the bargains for the day. The event has transitioned to the online retail world too, where shoppers can search for bargains from the comfort of their own home.

What is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is always the Monday following Black Friday and is a marketing term created by retailers, encouraging people to shop purely online. Retailers often offer discounts and promotions for the day to entice customers to shop online. It follows the same format as Black Friday, but instead of discounts in-store and online for the day, it’s just online.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become fun, if not crazy, traditions as we move towards the festive season. And there’s little satisfaction out there like finding a fantastic deal on something you’ve been coveting for a while. The last thing you need is to be worrying about being a victim of fraud or losing your new purchase to an itchy-fingered burglar. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to enjoy your goodies in peace.