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November 24, 2020
Tips for Senior Safety on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Tips for Senior Safety on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It’s no secret that Black Friday can be absolute madness. Mobs of people, crazy deals, full tummies and late-night adrenaline all combine for a big night for many Americans. As discounts spread to Cyber Monday, there are even more opportunities to shop around for great deals. 

This year, holidays look a little different for most people — and these money-saving traditions are no exception. New risks due to the spread of COVID-19 mean that the in-person aspects of Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be concerning, especially for seniors. 

In addition to COVID-19 concerns, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a worry for senior safety due to a host of other problems. Scams targeting seniors, websites and deals that seem to be reputable but are not, and ads for fake websites can all add up to a big concern for senior safety. 

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Consider Shopping Online

Your health is a priority, so it’s important to stay safe to the best of your abilities. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping tradition! After all, saving money is good for the soul. 

The CDC wants all older adults to remember that there is no way to ensure you have zero risk of COVID-19 infection. If you do decide to go out, it’s important to understand the risks.

  • The more closely you interact with others, your risk of contracting COVID-19 rises. 
  • Seniors, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are most vulnerable to serious illness regarding COVID-19. 

As seniors are the most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19, it is best to limit contact with people outside of your household as much as possible. Luckily, there are a plethora of online deals that are just as good (if not better) than the sales that businesses offer in-person. 

Some online Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals include: 

  • JC Penney is offering a slew of Black Friday discounts, plus an extra 30% off. 
  • Amazon is offering huge deals during the entire week of Thanksgiving. 
  • Nordstrom has huge cyber sales this holiday season, with up to 50% off items through December 1. 
  • Target is offering new deals every week, both online and in store.

Buying online will help seniors avoid excessive crowds while still getting great savings — without having to leave the comforts of home. 

Check for Senior Shopping Hours

If you do have a strong desire to shop in person, check in with your favorite stores to see if they have senior shopping hours. Throughout the pandemic, many stores have started offering special hours for seniors and other high-risk individuals to shop, so that they don’t have to deal with excessive crowds. 

This includes: 

If you do venture out to shop this holiday season, remember to protect yourself and others by following CDC recommendations. 

  • Wear a mask whenever you interact with people outside your household. 
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, especially when you have been in a public place. 
  • Put at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. 

Check with the local branch of your favorite stores for senior hours — and don’t forget your mask!

Be Extra Cautious of Facebook Ads

We have all had the experience of scrolling through Facebook and seeing an advertisement for an amazing gift for an unbelievable price. Maybe you haven’t heard of the company before, but the pictures seem great and the product is beyond affordable. 

Unfortunately, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Products sold from irreputable companies through Facebook ads tend to be misleading. 

Some issues that customers have after buying these products include: 

  • Receiving a low-quality item
  • Never receiving their item at all
  • Experiencing extreme shipping delays

However, this doesn’t mean that every single advertisement you receive is misleading. It just means that everyone should do their research before buying from a Facebook ad. 

Here are some tips to protect yourself while buying online: 

  • Google the company that advertised to you and read their customer reviews before entering your information. 
  • Use PayPal at checkout. They have a great policy for requesting refunds under misleading circumstances. 

Listen to your gut when you see advertisements. If things seem fishy, do your research!

Buy from Reputable Websites

Whether you are shopping Black Friday deals or simply putting some finishing touches on your holiday gifts, it’s important to buy from reputable websites. Straying into third-party retailer’s websites can lead to issues with your privacy, credit card information and products. 

Spend your money on websites where you know where the money is going. While it might be tempting to buy from cheap, seemingly similar sites, stick to what you know. 

Some examples of common retail websites are: 

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Best Buy

Keep your money safe and sound by purchasing from your favorite retailers that you know are legitimate. 

Watch Out for Black Friday Scams

Buyer beware of Black Friday scams! As shopping ramps up for the season of sales, cyber crooks see an opportunity to increase their scams as well. 

Some of the most common scams seem very realistic. It can be hard to tell whether or not you are encountering a simple request from a company, the best deal of your life, or a swindle that will cause lots of headaches and lost cash. 

Some of the most common Black Friday schemes include: 

  • Receiving emails with attachments from retailers. Retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Target, or any of your other favorites will likely not be sending you any attachments. Most of the time, this is a scheme intended to get you to click the attachment. Once you click the link or attachment, malware invades your device, which can cause a host of problems. 
  • Third-party gift cards. When purchasing a gift card this holiday season, be sure to go directly to the retailer’s website, rather than a third-party site. These scams target seniors in particular, trying to get them to read their credit card information over the phone. 
  • Pyramid-scheme mailers. If you have ever heard of the classic “Secret Santa” gift exchange, you may have heard of its scam of a sibling: “Secret Sister.” This usually manifests in a mailer, asking the recipient for money or a gift, in exchange for a ton of presents. These pieces of mail are most likely trying to con you, so stay vigilant! 

When completing your holiday shopping this year, don’t be fooled by cyber crooks. As long as you stay aware and maintain strict standards with sharing your information, you and your wallet should have a very happy holiday! 

Read the Fine Print on Financing Options

The holidays are a time when many seniors decide to stock up on big-ticket items. After all, the savings are incredible! Sometimes, stores might have an extra financing option, so that you don’t have to pay the entire cost up front. 

When you decide to finance a certain large item, it is vital that you understand the fine print in those agreements. 

Fine print got its name because it is a set of rules in a contract that usually makes the deal a little less sweet. Because of this, it tends to be written in slightly smaller font on the agreement so that shoppers overlook it. 

Certain rules often included in fine print include (but are not limited to): 

  • Interest
  • Extra fees
  • Penalties

Long story short: free financing options can seem like a fantastic idea — and they very well might be. However, it is important to be aware of the aspects of the contract that could come back to bite you.

For example, certain companies might offer a free financing option with an incredibly low minimum payment for 18 months. However, if you don’t pay the entire balance by the end of the given period, you will be charged the sum of all of the interest that you hadn’t been charged yet. If you come across a similar situation, be sure to calculate what you need to pay each month to pay the balance in full by the end of the financing period. 

If you decide to finance a big purchase this year, be sure to read the fine print, ask all your burning questions, and calculate when you need to pay everything back to avoid penalties. 

Conclusion

This holiday season is a time for joy and cheer. It is also a time to make sure you are staying safe — especially while shopping. 

By following CDC guidelines, being cautious about different ads and offers you might receive, and staying vigilant regarding sales and financing, you should have a very safe and merry holiday season. 

From Medicare Allies to you and yours — Happy Holidays! 

Luke Hockaday
By
Luke Hockaday
Luke Hockaday is a Customer Success Rep here at Medicare Allies. Luke has been helping Medicare-eligible clients with their insurance and retirement-planning needs since 2011. Luke is passionate about 3 things, and 3 things only: senior insurance, football, and food!

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