Beware of Black Friday Scams

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With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, consumers are being warned to be vigilant when shopping in this week’s sales, with a rise in scams expected to cost shoppers millions.

Police said crime over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period last year defrauded online shoppers in Britain of £2.5m. Many never received goods they ordered from unfamiliar websites, and some were subsequently targeted by criminals using bank details given during transactions.

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, has advised consumers to take additional checks when shopping online, as Black Friday approaches on 26 November. Pauline Smith, the service’s director, said people should always shop with official retailers, adding: “If you think you have found a bargain that is too good to be true, it probably is. Stop and think before making a purchase, as it could protect you and your money.”


Purchase from known sites and stores

Don’t fall into the trap of searching for a product and clicking on the top link, or being lured into an impulse purchase from a social media advert without checking out the validity of the site and offer. Instead try to only make purchases from official retailers you have used before or be careful to vet the supplier’s website thoroughly first.

Be Cautiously Compassionate this Christmas

Other scams to watch out for are Charity phishing scams, whereby fake sites are set up to ask for donations and your credit card details, or Christmas reward phishing scams, offering a too-good-to-be-true prize when you click on a link and give your login details and password. Again, careful vetting is paramount here or use well-known partners, such as Amazon Smile and Easyfundraising, to help raise valuable funds for causes close to your heart whilst you shop.

Stay Alert to Delivery Scams

You may well be waiting on deliveries but if you receive an email, text or phone call regarding an undelivered parcel, again make every effort to validate the content via means which are independent of the communication – e.g. look for original tracking details from the actual sender (you can track Amazon deliveries via their site and app), contact the sender to confirm the courier used, contact the courier directly, etc.

Be Aware of the Double-Hit

One of the alarming developments we are seeing now is the double-hit; an approach which claims to be from a parcel company which may then ask you for some personal details. There is then a subsequent call claiming to be from the fraud department of your bank explaining that there has been some suspicious activity on your account. They will describe how this will be the likely result of a phishing approach and describe the call or email you have already received. The caller then asks you to transfer your funds into a secure account to avoid further fraudulent activity – this is the point in time where you are actually being robbed. We would always advise you not to give out any personal details when approached like this but instead contact the parcel company directly yourself to check validity of the call.

Remember to remain vigilant, sceptical, and seek independent confirmation wherever possible to avoid becoming a victim of such approaches.

Whatever festive greetings & gifts you’re offered, always ensure you vet the charity, organisation or website in question and always look for the tell-tale signs of seasonal scam emails.

You are always welcome to check with us if you suspect a scam – we would much rather have the conversation before the ill-fated click on an email or text than after.