Business Maverick

BEWARE OF SHARKS

How to make sure Black Friday doesn’t leave you blacklisted — or in the red

How to make sure Black Friday doesn’t leave you blacklisted — or in the red

Shoppers beware! Black Friday is around the corner and those discounts might be tempting — you need to make sure your debt stays under control and you don’t fall victim to a scam.

The statistics show that South Africans love a good Black Friday special, with BankservAfrica finding that the total value of 2021 Black Friday transactions was a mammoth R3.3-billion — 17% up from 2020.

Ilonka Badenhorst, managing director at Waspa (Wireless Application Service Providers Association) warns that in today’s digital world, even your favourite retailer is not immune to data theft.

“Phishing attacks increase by as much as 336% around Black Friday, which means you are more at risk to email, text and social media scams than ever before,” she says.

Badenhorst says one common scam is that, in the lead-up to Black Friday and the festive season, you may find you are being bombarded with emails asking you to click through links or open attachments of amazing deals.

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“If this is not from your regular newsletter, or from a company who you have shared your details with, rather stay safe than sorry… delete the mail and don’t share your personal information in return for any vouchers, prizes or even gift cards,” she says.

“While South Africans are keen to take advantage of the numerous specials on offer, money is tight and every cent needs to work as hard as it can,” says Susan Steward, spokesperson for Budget Insurance.

Education and communication manager at the National Credit Regulator, Poppy Kweyama, echoed this sentiment, saying although it may make sense to take advantage of Black Friday sales and discounts to save money, unplanned purchases driven by excitement, impulse buying and the fear of missing out on bargains can increase the temptation to buy on credit when you haven’t budgeted and don’t have cash.

Interest and fees

“Irresponsible use of credit is not only expensive, but risky as well. When you consider the interest and fees on the credit, the costs increase, and then you are not actually saving any money,” she warns.

Kweyama adds that if you know you are prone to impulse buying or are ill-disciplined, you should rather stay at home — and not go online shopping either.

Duane Nicol, senior product manager and cybersecurity expert at Mimecast, says one red flag of a scam is an extremely high discount.

“If you receive an email offer for 70% off a must-have item, proceed with caution and verify the price on the company’s website,” he says, adding that any suspicious emails should be reported to your company security team and to the banks, rather than simply being deleted or ignored.

“When email threats go unreported, it raises the risk level for everyone else. Conversely, the more we share emerging email threats, the easier it is for everyone to become aware of the threat and take action to avoid any risks,” he says.

Tips to get you safely through Black Friday and Cyber Monday 

  • Don’t get taken in by the hype and don’t fall into the trap of believing that Black Friday itself is the only time to find a good deal. Do your research and compare where necessary to make sure you really are getting the best price. Steward recommends you use sites such as pricecheck.co.za to do this.
  • Set up online accounts in advance. Go to the sites of retailers you are likely to buy from and set up your online account in advance. This will include filling in your details, setting up your preferred delivery address and receiving a log-in and password. Doing this ahead of time means you will be able to buy quickly when deals go live.
  • Set up a budget. Plan what you can afford to avoid being tempted into spending more than you have. The last thing you want is to go into December with debt and start off the new year on a poor financial footing.
  • Focus on what you need first. Create a list of things that you need to get or replace soon, and prioritise those. Things that you want — luxuries — need to be second in line.
  • The 24-hour rule. Unplanned, ill-considered purchases can throw you completely off budget. Leave items in your favourites list or cart for a full 24 hours before going through with the purchase. This will give you time to rationalise the purchase and work out whether it makes sense to go ahead with it. Be prepared to step away from a deal.
  • Use those loyalty rewards. You may have some points, discounts or cash-back offers due to you. Make sure to use these to your advantage.
  • Sign up for newsletters. Keeping up to date with what is happening on your favourite shopping sites allows you to receive news on the latest deals and specials. BM/DM
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