How to spot and avoid Black Friday scams

Black Friday isn't just for shoppers. It's also a goldmine for scammers who take advantage of customers on the lookout for the hottest deals. Scammers have come up with numerous complex ways to exploit innocent victims out of millions of pounds.

How to spot and avoid Black Friday scams

Black Friday isn't just for shoppers. It's also a goldmine for scammers who take advantage of customers on the lookout for the hottest deals. Scammers have come up with numerous complex ways to exploit innocent victims out of millions of pounds. Following the effects of the pandemic and lockdown, many people have grown accustomed to purchasing online, where scammers thrive to find their next victims. During this time, many people are easily tricked by scammers, who use deceptive methods to persuade you to click on suspicious links or buy from websites that may be fraudulent.

According to Lloyds Bank, non-delivery scams cost victims an average of £190, and the top ten items include popular Black Friday purchases such as phones, games consoles, and trainers. You can lessen your chances of falling prey to a scam by following the tips below the next time you’re on your Black Friday shop.

If it's too good to be true, it probably is!

Black Friday Scam

Scammers often use crazy discounts to deceive customers into purchasing from them during Black Friday, when people are looking for the best prices. Make sure you cross-reference with other retailers to see what price they’re offering and make sure that the price matches the value of the product, even with the discounted price. Also, make sure you're choosing stores or e-commerce sites you know and have used before, so you know the deal is authentic and trustworthy.

Cybercriminals have been known to clone websites in order to deceive consumers into believing they are making a purchase from a reputable website. This is why you should always double-check that the URL is correct. It is best to write the URL yourself to avoid clicking on sites to which you are unaware you will be rerouted. If you type in the URL yourself, double-check your spelling before providing payment information. Knock-off websites are easily identified by their unusual design elements and practical faults such as broken links, typos, and slow-loading pages. The company may also be missing a physical address or contact information.

Black Friday fake vouchers are another way scammers take advantage of innocent victims. It may seem that you have received the golden ticket in your inbox, but it is just another 'click the link' hoax. These scams typically use compassionate rhetoric, such as using the cost of living crisis, as a way to make the receiver feel heard and understood. These URLs are difficult to detect because the link is usually in the form of a button. To avoid falling victim to these scams, we recommend ignoring links entirely and instead visiting the website by typing the entire URL into Google.

Phishing email scams

Phishing emails are a scammer's favourite technique, especially at this time of year. With more people purchasing online it’s an easy way for them to send victims emails such as ‘Your order has been cancelled' or ‘Payment cancelled’. These emails create a sense of urgency and stress, which can oftentimes make the victims not want to read the email in its entirety to sort the ‘problem’ out straight away. If you click on the link, you will most likely be directed to a website that appears precisely like the one from which you made your purchase. You will then be asked to re-enter your banking information.

If you receive an email that says there is a problem with your delivery and you know you have some deliveries due, then go to the courier’s website through your search engine – not the link in the email. Then, using the tracking number from the website where you ordered, enter it into the courier's tracking system. This will inform you if there are any delivery issues, as well as if the tracking number is wrong. In that case, you will know that the retailer is using a different courier service and that the email is a scam. You can also contact the online store from which you purchased to see if they are experiencing any problems with your payment.

The most important thing to pay attention to is the sender's email address. Because scammers will be unable to utilise the legitimate retailer's domain, they will spoof it to appear as similar as feasible. To learn how to spot spoofing emails, click the link here.

Charity Fraud

During this time, closer to Christmas, there are many charity scams popping up to tempt you to donate money to fake charities. Many people feel the need to help others during this time due to the feel-good nature of the joyous times. These scammers impersonate successful charity organisations and clone the website of the charity in order to deceive people into thinking it was the legitimate charity they were donating to. The big giveaway that these are scams is the URL. The URL will look very similar to the charity's actual site, however, if you compare the two, you will find many differences.  A fake website may look almost identical to a legitimate charity site, changing only the details of where to send donations.

If you've never heard of a charity, either avoid donating to them entirely or do your research. Legitimate charities will be registered and you can check this on the gov.uk website. Fake frequently use high-pressure tactics with overly emotive language to make people feel guilty to trick them into making a donation.

Check for grammar and punctuation

Phishing Email Black Friday

Despite the fact that phishing emails are becoming more complex and difficult to detect, they still contain spelling and grammar errors in order to avoid spam filters. Spam filters hunt for 'trigger' words to protect you from malicious emails. When these terms are misspelt, they can bypass spam filters and land in your email. Unusual greetings and overly professional wording can also be used to identify phishing emails.

Use a trusted third-party payment platform

Paying money directly from your account into someone else's can be extremely hazardous, as it generally comes with no protection, making it impossible to recover your money back. Third-party payment platforms such as PayPal have policies set in place where they will refund you the money if you don’t receive what you paid for. They have also implemented Fraud Protection, which is a system that leverages advanced technology to combat fraud.

What to do if you have been scammed?

  • Contact your bank – If money has been withdrawn from your account, you should immediately contact your bank to replace your cards, freeze your account, and change your security information. If you have been scammed, your bank is also required to refund you.
  • Contact Action Fraud - Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud and cybercrime reporting facility, where you can report fraud and discuss what happened. The more people who report fraud, the more likely it is that the perpetrators will be arrested, charged, and convicted.
  • Reset Passwords - If the scammer has access to your accounts or your computer, make sure to reset and change your passwords.
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