Black Friday is the perfect time for fraudsters to prey on those trying to bag a bargain.
There’s no shortage of ways that scammers can trick you into parting with your information or hard-earned money. But although scams change, the things you can do to protect yourself don’t.
Let’s look at what to watch out for and how you can avoid falling victim.
Social media scams are more common than ever
Platforms like Facebook accounted for over half of all online shopping fraud reported in 2022. Often, scammers will set up fake pages and build a following in the run up to big shopping events like Black Friday to appear more genuine.
Facebook Marketplace can also be great for bagging a bargain or making extra money during the holidays. But scams are rife here, too, affecting both buyers and sellers. So, make yourself aware of the most common scams to look out for if you’re thinking of selling or shopping through this platform.
It’s worth noting that fraudsters operate on all social channels, not just Facebook. You should remain vigilant wherever you do your online shopping.
Email scams are still the most common form of online fraud
Email scams have come a long way since the days of being promised a £3,000,000 inheritance left to you by your great grandfather twice removed. Now, even the savviest amongst us can be fooled by a sophisticated scam email.
Whilst plenty of scam emails will be as clear as day, others are less easy to detect. With Black Friday can come an influx of emails full of offers and discounts. Some of them will be legitimate, but others may contain unrealistic deals on must-have items. If you don’t usually receive emails from the company, then it’s probably a scam.
Not all scams are digital
Fraudsters know that more people are shopping online and receiving parcels around Black Friday. They'll take this opportunity to send scam texts or emails posing as delivery companies like Royal Mail or DPD.
These messages will usually come out of the blue, and can go down a couple of routes:
- You’ll be asked to pay a small fee for a delivery to be sent
- You’ll be sent a link to reschedule a delivery that you missed
These types of malicious links will usually take you to a convincing-looking website where you’ll hand over personal information. In some cases, you may be asked to make a payment or bank transfer funds.
Expecting a delivery?
Fraudsters can put a post redirection in place with Royal Mail that allows them to automatically have mail from your address sent to an address of their choosing. This could mean not only your parcels, but other personal, sensitive information falls into the wrong hands.
How safe is your ‘safe place’?
Let’s not forget that physical theft is as much of a threat as any, especially during the holidays.
If you're having deliveries left in a ‘safe place’ while you’re out, be mindful of where you choose. Thieves won’t think twice about taking a parcel off your doorstep or rifling through your wheelie bins.
Top tips for avoiding a Black Friday scam
Although scams have become much more sophisticated, at the core, the tactics remain the same. Our in-house fraud expert, Ben Fleming, says:
“Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are major events of the year for fraudsters. Take your time. Shop directly at the websites and double check you haven't fallen into a fake one. Check your buyer's protection on things like PayPal or preferably use a card. Fraudsters want to make you hope it’s the real deal and take the risk of buying from them. Don't fall into the trap and make it easy for them.”
Here are Ben’s top tips for shopping safely during the holidays:
- Use a credit card. Purchases over £100 and below £30,000 are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Debit cards also offer chargeback protection. PayPal is another secure method of payment you can use, as long as you choose Goods and Services. Friends and Family payments are not protected by PayPal. You should never pay someone you don’t know by bank transfer.
- Use the company's website directly. This goes whether you’re shopping for deals or tracking deliveries. Any deal you’ve seen or delivery information you’ve been sent will still be available on the website.
- If the deal looks too good to be true, it likely is. Even on Black Friday, some discounts can be unrealistic. If you see a deal you like the look of, always check the link before clicking as it may be a fake ad.
- Never pay for a missed item to be redelivered. Royal Mail will usually post a card through your door if you miss a delivery. They definitely won’t text and ask you to make a payment for the item to be redelivered.
- Use secure sites. Look for the padlock in the URL bar and ‘https’ at the start of the URL.
- Nominate a neighbour to take parcels in for you where possible. Otherwise, opt for a more secure safe place such as a shed or garage where your parcels can be kept out of sight.
- Keep a close eye on your mail. If you haven’t had any post for about 4 weeks, or haven’t received something you’re expecting, you can ask Royal Mail to check if any redirects are in place on your address
If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a scam, where money or bank details have been given, contact your bank in the first instance. You should also change passwords and security questions wherever you’ve shared personal details like account login information.
More information on reporting scams can be found at:
Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.