Beware Black Friday Scams

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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.

According to Barclays Bank data, the number of reported purchase scams rose by 34 per cent immediately after Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year with an average of £1,072 lost to scammers.

Many never received goods they ordered from unfamiliar websites, and some were subsequently targeted by criminals using bank details given during transactions.

Ross Martin, Head of Digital Safety at Barclays, says: “Whilst Black Friday is a great way to save money ahead of the Christmas season, it is important to stay vigilant when making purchases. This year more than ever, people will be looking for the best bargains, which could lead them right into the hands of scammers, who will be advertising false offers to lure victims in. Just remember to ignore any pressure that is being put on you, and if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”


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.

View the item in person

If possible, make sure you actually see the item first in person to make sure it exists, especially if it’s a big purchase, like a smartphone or even a car.

Speak to someone you trust

It is always worth getting a second opinion, whether it’s a friend, family member or bank. Many purchase scams offer huge discounts that you wouldn’t normally find at retailers you would normally trust. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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.

Watch out for the British Airways Black Friday scam

Beware one specific scam which is doing the rounds this year and targeting those looking to pick up a bargain holiday, according to the frequent flyer and loyalty points website Head for Points.

The website warns that a number of its readers have been receiving WhatsApp messages about a supposed British Airways Black Friday giveaway. BA has confirmed to Head for Points that this is indeed a scam.

This scam – offering the chance to win free BA economy flights to Europe for completing an online quiz – encourages winners to send it on to 20 friends and is thereby harvesting valuable personal data.

Bob Brinklow, UK country manager at cyber security firm NordVPN, said “this scam trades on users’ familiarity, not only with BA as a brand, but also with the pop-up quizzes that have become a feature of many web pages.

“As a result, people surfing the web may not think twice before clicking on the attached link and then including some personal – and valuable – details as part of their ‘competition entry’.

“It’s important to treat any pop-up deal or offer with caution and avoid clicking on any links unless you know the address they’re taking you to is verified. If you find yourself on an unfamiliar web page, don’t fill in any personal details unless you know that you’re dealing with a secure site.

“Remember, even around Black Friday, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

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.