11 red flags Black Friday shoppers should watch out for

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  • Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the US, is Friday, November 29.
  • Although shoppers will find great deals on countless products on Black Friday, there are some red flags to be wary of.
  • We asked experts to list the biggest red flags to watch out for on Black Friday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Black Friday deals are popping up sooner than ever.

In fact, all of November has been seemingly Black Friday-themed, with early deals marketed as "previews" flooding inboxes across the country.

While this means that shoppers no longer have to wait in line for hours after Thanksgiving dinner, it also means they need to be especially vigilant for scams and other deceptive practices that take place during Black Friday season.

We asked experts for the red flags shoppers should watch out for when it comes to Black Friday deals. Here are all the things they said to be wary of.

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Don't fall for early temptations — the deals could be better on the actual day of Black Friday.

Don't fall for early temptations — the deals could be better on the actual day of Black Friday.

It's not easy to avoid shopping in the days leading up to Black Friday, given all the flashy early deals advertised, but Michael Bonebright, a consumer analyst with comparison shopping site DealNews.com, told Business Insider that self-control could pay off in a big way.

"Black Friday ads from stores like Best Buy and Target have set the bar really high for competitors like Amazon and Walmart with their pre-Black Friday sales, but while it may be tempting to pick up a TV that's priced for Black Friday today, it's important to be patient," Bonebright said. "Avoiding early sales gives you the chance to score an even better price on Black Friday — and even if you don't see a lower price, you can almost always get the Black Friday price on Black Friday."

Watch out for deceptive store hours.

Watch out for deceptive store hours.

All shoppers should familiarize themselves with 2019 Black Friday store hours. Stores tend to open earlier than normal, with many opening the night of Thanksgiving to kick off Black Friday deals.

"The most important thing to note, however, is that some stores only give you a one- to two-hour window to come claim a door-buster, so you need to be in line on time," Bonebright said. "These stores will often hand out wristbands or tickets for high-demand doorbusters, so if you arrive too close to the time of opening, you might miss the handout of those door-buster tickets or wristbands."

Be careful with handing out sensitive information when you're calling stores to put items on hold.

Be careful with handing out sensitive information when you're calling stores to put items on hold.

Some shoppers try to call dibs on certain promotions by asking the store to put items on hold. Be very wary of any pre-sale transactions, even in luxury retailers.

"Unfortunately, most retailers will not hold items for more than 24 hours without the client putting down sensitive information like your address and credit card details," Coach manager Markia Boone told Business Insider. In the hands of the wrong person, your information can be used for fraudulent activity, so if you're going to take advantage of pre-selling, it's best to only go with a client adviser you fully trust and have a rapport with."

Examine all delivery-related emails and texts closely — some of them may not be legitimate.

Examine all delivery-related emails and texts closely — some of them may not be legitimate.

While package thieves are stealing your Amazon boxes off your porch, digital thieves are after your identity.

"As you're expecting more deliveries this year, be wary of text messages or emails saying things like 'there is a problem with your shipment' or 'a problem with your order' and prompting you to click a link," Frances Dewing, CEO and cofounder of cybersecurity company Rubica, told Business Insider.

"Those are common phishing scams that look like they're from UPS, FedEx, or USPS. If you click the link, the next page will ask for your password or personal data (that they then steal), or the link can secretly infect your device (even your phone) with malware."

Beware of fake offers from non-trusted and third-party sites.

Beware of fake offers from non-trusted and third-party sites.

In the race to get the best deals online, it's important to stop and inspect the deals you click on, even when you're on an online shopping site you trust.

"Many people don't know that fake offers and fake ads lurk even on legitimate websites," Dewing said. "Ads and banners along the side of sites are often from third parties, not the hosting site, so think twice if an offer asks for payment through non-mainstream, non-trusted sites, or asks you to log in to your bank or email to complete a payment."

He also underlined that shoppers should always be suspicious of sites that require installing software in order to get the deal.

"Any legitimate coupon app will be available for download via the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so never download software from non-app store sites," he said.

Don't fall for unusually high discounts or sales.

Don't fall for unusually high discounts or sales.

Do your research leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Bethany Hollars, content director of the online deals website BrickSeek.com, said some retailers will inflate their prices leading up to Black Friday weekend so that their subsequent discounts seems more appealing by comparison.

"Gather the pricing info on your must-buy items several weeks ahead of time so that you have an accurate foundation to determine whether something is really a good deal," Hollars told Business Insider.

Watch out for stores suspending their price-matching policies, or else you could end up stuck with a bad purchase.

Watch out for stores suspending their price-matching policies, or else you could end up stuck with a bad purchase.

"Some retailers will suspend their price matching policies during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and others will enforce a return policy specific to the holiday season, perhaps only allowing exchanges of an item or prohibiting the return of certain merchandise altogether," Hollars said. "Make sure that you are aware of these limited time changes so that you aren't stuck with a bad purchase."

Read the fine print on coupons and promotions — your favorite products might be excluded.

Read the fine print on coupons and promotions — your favorite products might be excluded.

When you find a great Black Friday coupon, watch out for the exclusions.

"Department stores like Belk and Macy's are notorious for offering store-wide coupons that exclude many of the brands you care about, such as Levi's, Calvin Klein, or Michael Kors," Bonebright said. "Along the same line, watch out for department store coupons that secretly offer smaller discounts for certain categories. Typically you'll see a coupon that says '20% off everything!' and then there's small text below that explaining how you'll actually get 15% off furniture or another category."

Be wary of freebies.

Be wary of freebies.

Few things are truly free, so be wary of any freebies and giveaways that require signing up for anything.

"At best, you'll be added to a junk mail or spam call list and at worst you could put your identity at risk," Bonebright said.

Beware of door-buster deals.

Beware of door-buster deals.

Some products are manufactured specifically for Black Friday, as they may not be of the caliber you're expecting.

"These products are often missing key features or made of inferior quality, so make sure you research products by model number to read reviews, review the products descriptions, and features," Andrea Woroch, a personal finance writer, told Business Insider. "You don't want to end up with something you have to replace in six months."

And you'd be wise to ignore deals on certain products that will get even cheaper at other times of the year — even as early as December.

And you'd be wise to ignore deals on certain products that will get even cheaper at other times of the year — even as early as December.

Black Friday is a great time to buy many products, but for others, you're better off waiting for another time of year.

You should save luggage purchases for the spring, when prices go down ahead of the summer travel season, Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at coupon site RetailMeNot, told Business Insider.

And while you might find discounts on makeup and cosmetic sets on Black Friday, fragrances are best purchased closer to Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, she said.

Meanwhile, you should hold off on buying new exercise equipment until after the new year rolls around "in tandem with New Year's resolutions," she said.

Shopping expert Trae Bodge said that products like outerwear, holiday-themed merchandise, and hardware, will be more deeply discounted in December. Further, while there will be some travel deals on Black Friday, she said the best travel deals will be on Travel Deal Tuesday, the day after Cyber Monday.

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