15 Tips To Stay Safe This Black Friday
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Black Friday can pose some risks if you’re not careful. During this day with the best deals of the year, you may also be vulnerable to theft, injuries and identity theft. Fortunately, having the right insurance coverage will help you recoup some of your losses.
Saving money is great but don’t forget about your personal safety and having adequate insurance coverage. Below, we share Black Friday safety tips to help you kick off your holiday shopping more securely.
What Are the Most Common Safety Issues on Black Friday?
Depending on the foot traffic and the popularity of the store, holiday shopping on Black Friday could pose some safety risks.
During the Black Friday shopping frenzy, in-store injuries become a heightened concern. The combination of large crowds, limited-time deals and the rush to snag discounted items can lead to accidents. In-store injuries may include slips, trips and falls due to spilled liquids or discarded packaging, as well as injuries from falling merchandise or overcrowded aisles.
Additionally, altercations between shoppers competing for the same item can sometimes escalate, leading to physical confrontations. In 2015, Kansas woman Amanda DuVall, 28, sued Walmart for negligence after being trampled by other Walmart shoppers over $49.99 tablets on Black Friday in 2013.
In addition to retail theft, everyday consumers and their cars may also be the victims of smash-and-grabs.During Black Friday, busy stores and distracted shoppers create opportunities for thieves. Crowded spaces can enable pickpockets to discreetly snatch belongings like your wallet, phone and bags and shoppers may unintentionally leave items behind.
Online Fraud, Scams and Hackers
As Black Friday's online shopping grows, so do cybercriminal activities like scams, phishing and hacking. Shoppers may encounter fake websites mimicking real retailers or receive malicious emails with too-good-to-be-true deals. All of these are tactics to steal your information, as well as your hard-earned money.
10 Black Friday Safety Tips
Follow these Black Friday shopping safety tips to help protect yourself from injury, theft, online scams and more.
1. Get the Right Insurance Coverage for Black Friday
If you're eyeing significant or high-value purchases, understand your homeowners or renters insurance limits, as your personal property coverage may have a cap on certain items. For example, insurance companies often place a sublimit on jewelry and furs. Should your buys exceed these, consider adding scheduled property coverage to your home or renters policy to enjoy full protection if any of these items are damaged or stolen.
Also, review your car insurance, especially if visiting multiple stores. Busy parking lots heighten accident risks. Having collision insurance covers repairs to your car in a car accident, while comprehensive insurance covers you if your car is broken into, vandalized or stolen. (Note: if you’re leasing or still paying off your car loan, you likely already have collision and comprehensive coverage.)
2. Monitor Your Credit Cards and Bank Accounts After Use
In the aftermath of the Black Friday sales, keep a close eye on your financial statements. Unauthorized charges or suspicious activity can sometimes go unnoticed amidst the volume of legitimate purchases. Regularly checking your credit card and bank account statements can help you quickly identify and address any discrepancies before it's too late.
3. Avoid Keeping Valuables in Your Vehicle for Extended Periods
During Black Friday, thieves are on the lookout for easy targets and a car filled with shopping bags can be an enticing opportunity. Leaving valuables in your vehicle, even if hidden from view, increases the risk of break-ins. If you must store purchases in your car, try to do so only temporarily and consider moving your vehicle to a different parking spot to give the illusion of having left the premises.
4. Lock Your Vehicle
It might seem like common sense but in the rush of Black Friday shopping, it's easy to forget the basics. Always ensure that your vehicle is locked, even if you're stepping away for just a moment. An unlocked car is an open invitation for opportunistic thieves to take what’s inside or even steal your car entirely, especially on a day when many are preoccupied with finding the best deals.
5. Be Wary of Reckless Drivers in Parking Lots
Black Friday can bring out impatient and distracted drivers. Parking lots become a hub of activity, with cars circling for spots and pedestrians everywhere. Stay alert for drivers who might be speeding, not yielding to pedestrians or making sudden moves without signaling. When walking, make eye contact with drivers and always be cautious.
6. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
With the excitement of big sales and bustling crowds, it's easy to become distracted. However, it's crucial to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for suspicious individuals and if something feels off, trust your instincts. Keeping an eye out and staying vigilant can help prevent unwanted situations.
7. Park in a Well-Lit Area
If you're shopping early in the morning or late into the evening, the darkness can provide cover for potential criminals. Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas or near storefronts. The added visibility not only deters potential thieves but also helps you feel safer when returning to your vehicle.
8. Avoid ATMs
Carrying large amounts of cash can make you a target. If you need to withdraw money, try to do so in a well-lit, busy area and be discreet. However, it's best to avoid ATMs altogether on Black Friday.
9. Shop at Retail Stores With Security Present
Stores that prioritize security tend to have a safer shopping environment. Look for a retailer with a visible security guard and surveillance cameras. Their presence not only acts as a deterrent for potential criminals but also provides an added layer of safety for Black Friday shoppers.
10. Limit the Number of Shopping Bags You Carry
Walking around with multiple shopping bags can make you look like an easy target. It can also hinder your mobility, making it harder to react quickly in an emergency. Try to consolidate your purchases into fewer bags or make periodic trips to your car to lighten your load — remember to move your car if possible to give the illusion of having left the area. Also, store items out of sight like in your trunk if you're returning to shop more.
5 Online Black Friday Safety Tips
You can certainly shop online to skip the Black Friday traffic and crowds but there are still unique risks you need to manage. Below, we share tips for protecting yourself electronically so you can have a safe Black Friday online shopping experience.
1. Ensure the Website You’re Shopping On Is Secure
Before making online purchases, especially during high-traffic events like Black Friday, it's paramount to ensure that the website you're using is secure. Before entering any personal or financial information, check the website's URL for "https://" at the beginning, which indicates a secure connection. Additionally, look for a lock icon in the address bar or at the bottom of the browser window. These signs indicate that the website uses encryption to protect your data, reducing the risk of cyber theft.
2. Shop Familiar Brands
Sticking to well-known and trusted brands can significantly reduce the risk of encountering scams or receiving counterfeit products. These brands often have established security measures in place to protect their customers.
While it might be tempting to explore new or unfamiliar online retailers offering enticing Black Friday deals, exercise caution. If you're considering purchasing from a lesser-known site, do some research first: read reviews, check for customer feedback and ensure they have clear contact information available.
3. Avoid Deals That Seem Too Good To Be True
Black Friday is known for its incredible deals during the holiday season but it's also a prime time for scammers to lure unsuspecting shoppers with offers that seem too good to be true. If a deal seems unbelievably attractive or significantly better than what other retailers are offering, it might be a red flag. Always approach such deals with skepticism and conduct a quick online search to verify the legitimacy of the offer and the retailer before making a purchase.
4. Shop With One Credit Card
Using a single credit card for all your online Black Friday purchases can be a strategic move. It not only simplifies the monitoring process for any unauthorized transactions but also limits potential exposure if your card information gets compromised. Choose a card with robust fraud protection features and always keep an eye on your statements. If you notice unfamiliar transactions, report them immediately to your card issuer.
5. Buy Identity Theft Protection
In today's online shopping era, especially during events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, protecting personal and financial information is crucial. In 2022, over 1.1 million reports of identity theft were submitted to the Federal Trade Commission.
Identity theft protection services offer added security by monitoring databases and alerting you to suspicious activity. Many insurance companies sell these services as an add-on to your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Some banks and credit card companies even offer identity protection as a perk or at a discount.