It’s no longer a surprise that where online attention lies, scams closely follow. From Instagram account hacks to DDoS attacks, scams and fraud schemes are pretty much a part of the internet as we know it. However, there’s one more scam you should beware of as a business owner – fraudulent Black Friday deals.
Even though Black Friday scams don’t affect your business directly, they can subtly impact your sales and revenue, ad performance, website traffic, and even rope your company into illegal activity. As a result, you need to understand how they work and, more importantly, how to avoid them.
What are Black Friday Scams?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams are structured to look like a part of the safe and secure transactions people complete every year on the Holiday Shopping weekend. But unknown to the victims, they are actually designed to steal their money, financial information, personal details, and even passwords to social media accounts.
On the surface, it looks like only unsuspecting shoppers are affected by these scams, but businesses are often caught in the crossfire. For example, scammers may use stolen credit card information to buy from your website, or they may spoof your website to steal user data and ruin our reputation in the process.
Seven Types of Black Friday Scams That Can Affect Your Business
There are seven common Black Friday shopping scams, and each of these can do damage to your business in a number of ways. Here is how they work.
1. Fake Websites Scam
The fake website scam is quite straightforward; scammers set up a fake website that looks exactly like Amazon (or spoof your site if you’re an eCommerce store). When unsuspecting visitors make online purchases there, their credit card information and personal details are collected and later sold or used to steal their money.
The key to these scammy Black Friday deals is that the websites have to look as convincing as possible, with pages of content copied from the actual site – a practice known as website spoofing.
2. Gift Card Scams
Scammers often use gift cards to collect untraceable payments from their victims. They could promise the victim a remarkable discount that only works via a special payment coupon, or they could be selling non-existent computer software that will boost the victim’s PC performance.
These types of scams are effective because of how accessible the gift cards are. You can pop into any convenience store to buy them, pass the information to scammers, and watch your money disappear.
3. Charity Fraud Scams
Fake charity scams prey on people’s desire to help others, especially during the holiday season. To execute, scammers pose as charity organizations and set up an elaborate ruse to appear authentic and deceive well-meaning people.
They use fake websites, set up fictional executive positions, and even launch seemingly authentic social media campaigns. This kind of scam is unique because the fraud victims may never know that they’ve been played since most people don’t bother researching the charity they donate to.
4. Non-delivery Scams
Non-delivery scams can have a big impact on your business and are another effect of website spoofing. Here, users order a product at a remarkable discount (usually around discount seasons like Black Friday and Cyber Monday) from what looks like your website.
However, they will not receive a tracking number, and the order will never arrive. This kind of scam can rope your business in because scammers pose as your business to collect payment and orders – right down to the branding and contact details. Again, it comes down to website spoofing…
Of course, you never receive the order, fraudsters get the money and the customer is left empty handed. The result is that you’ll have angry customers yelling at your customer care for orders you know nothing about.
5. Fake Order and Fake Delivery Scams
Fake delivery scams and fake order scams work by using phishing methods such as sending SMS or email messages to many people. They rope victims in by saying there’s a problem with their order, with a link to correct the issue.
The messages here are asking them to confirm their details in order to accept their package – but of course the message isn’t genuine.
These scams can be very effective because the messages are designed to look as authentic as possible. And because many people have orders pending on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping weekend, people can easily fall victim to this scam.
This scam is a phishing scam which is designed to collect people’s login or payment card details.
6. Payment fraud
Perhaps the most obvious form of fraud on Black Friday or Cyber Monday is the use of stolen payment information. Fraudsters will use details harvested from data breaches or theft to process payment on ecommerce websites. Businesses will ship these items only for the payment to be reverted due to fraud, resulting in chargebacks for the business owner.
Fraudsters can also use methods using bots to hack into your customer database, a practice known as account takeover. They can then process orders using stored payment information, which of course the genuine customer never receives or even knows anything about.
7. Advertising click fraud
Ad fraud and click fraud are a method used by fraudsters to inflate the payout they receive from ads, or to maliciously click paid links. Both of these activities see a surge in activity around Black Friday weekend, with Cheq finding that nearly 36% of web traffic was fraudulent in 2021.
And because marketers are often spending more on their display ads and social media marketing over the Holiday Shopping weekend, this means fraudsters make off with even more ad revenue.
Blocking click fraud over Black Friday is an essential fraud prevention strategy for every business owner running PPC ads.
Find out more in our complete guide to click fraud.
How to Avoid Black Market Scams as a Business Owner
1. Educate Your Employees
Scammers will often try to gain access to critical information about your business, making it easier to scam your customers. They may steal your customer list or passwords or even redirect your traffic to a phishing site.
You can prevent this by educating your employees to create strong passwords and avoid emails from unverified sources.
Your employees should also take precautions like these:
- Report suspicious activity on your website immediately
- Avoid suspicious-looking websites when shopping online
- Avoid buying from unfamiliar stores
- Immediately report all suspected cases of fraud to their credit card company. Thanks to the fair credit billing act, they have a good shot at getting their money back
2. Remind Customers to Protect Their Privacy
The odds are that your customers will be primary targets for Black Friday shopping scams. One of the best things you can do is to remind them to take precautionary measures.
That could mean listing all your authentic URLs and informing them to double-check the website address before entering their credit card information.
Warning your customers could also mean reminding them that your business does not accept gift cards and reporting any suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Finally, consider cautioning your customers to never submit any personal information that your website wouldn’t normally ask for, like the social security number, date of birth, or other sensitive information.
3. Act on All Fraudulent Transactions as Soon as Possible
Scammers will often use stolen credit cards to make online purchases. These could be everything from expensive Amazon goods to your business’ products and services. Payment merchants like Stripe and PayPal have systems in place that detect suspicious card activity and shut down the transactions.
You’ll usually get a report on these transactions via email or on your dashboard. When you do, act immediately, or else your account could get suspended, shut down, or worse, your company could be implicated in credit card fraud schemes.
When you receive these alerts, take them up with your payment processing merchant. They will have a protocol that may include collecting more information on checkout and taking additional precautions when shipping items. For more information, check out Stripe’s recommended response action plan.
4. Look Out for Suspicious Traffic Activity
Irregular traffic activity will be your biggest indicator of scam activities. You might notice irregularly low traffic during periods when your numbers should be through the roof (like Black Friday). In this case, scammers may be redirecting your visitors to phishing websites designed to look exactly like yours.
The key is to find these sites as quickly as possible and report them to the FTC. You can also submit them to scam-busting websites like Scambusters and Fake Website Buster so that other users can be warned.
You could also notice unusual visits from unrecognized IP addresses. This could mean that you have some new customers, but it could also mean that scammers are researching your site.
It’s a good idea to create a no-access list for IP addresses that have been associated with online scams in the past. That way, it’s much harder for scammers to involve your business in their schemes.
Finally, your analytics could indicate increased ad clicks without the corresponding conversions. This usually happens when your ads are being clicked by click bots designed to rack up your ad spend and waste your money.
Even though your users aren’t at risk in this scenario, you could join the thousands of businesses that will lose up to $65 billion to ad fraud in 2022 (Juniper Research).
The solution here is to work with trusted ad partners, keep a close eye on your traffic, and, again, block flagged IP addresses that have been linked to ad fraud.
6. Prevent bot activity on your site
One of the most effective methods to reduce fraud on your website on Black Friday weekend is to block bad bots on your sit. This means you’re less likely to see common fraud such as:
- Payment fraud (carding)
- Account takeover
- Website spoofing
- Click fraud and ad fraud
Bot protection software such as ClickCease adds a layer of security to reduce the chances of bad bots and fraud from happening to your business.
On Black Friday, it’s more important than ever to protect not just your business but your customers too. By preventing fake traffic on your website you can reduce the impact of website spoofing, credit card fraud and data theft or account breaches.
And, if you’re running paid ads, you can make sure your ad campaigns are much more effective and bring in the best ROAS possible.
By using ClickCease, business owners can use our Bot Zapping tool to reduce the impact of bot traffic on their site.
Sign up for your FREE 7 day trial of ClickCease this Black Friday and stop bad bots from scamming you AND your customers