The countdown is officially here to Black Friday and we hope you've been putting your wish list together. There will be a huge number of different deals and discounts available, so if you haven't started yet, we'd recommend that you do.
Whilst it is the perfect weekend to make some purchases, it's also the perfect time for fraudsters to come out their hiding spots and start choosing their victims. The rush of Black Friday can often make scams difficult to spot, especially if the deal is time constricted or only available for a few hours.
We've therefore come up with 5 easy tips to help you avoid the scammers this Black Friday, keeping you safe from pressing the 'buy now' button to when your parcel arrives on your doorstep.
1. Look out for dodgy emails
When it comes to big shopping events like Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday, fraudsters love to draw in victims by sending an email seemingly offering an exclusive or secret deal at one of your favourite shops. It's a very easy kind of scam, especially as the fraudsters don't have to put in a lot of effort. A lot of these kind of emails can look very realistic, especially if logos or images are selected and used from the legitimate website.
One important way to look out for this is to see if the domain name of the sender's email address is slightly off, or just plain incorrect. It could also be a good idea to see if the email address matches the official one from the shop it's claiming to be. Lastly, if the email is in your 'junk' or 'spam' inbox, then it should probably stay there.
2. Double check those reviews
Checking out product reviews is a useful way of determining how genuine something is and how much you should be spending on it. You never known, someone could have purchased the same product and realised they'd received a cheap knock off rather than the real deal, especially if it's through a second-hand retailer website. By leaving a review detailing this, they're essentially helping you out at the end of the day, so make sure you check!
3. Don't use public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, especially if you're on the go, but they're also less secure. If you're planning on making some purchases over the Black Friday weekend, avoid doing so when connected to public Wi-Fi as cybercriminals and scammers can easily intercept your data. It's safer to just avoid it altogether, but if your money is burning a whole in your pocket, then consider using a VPN to protect yourself.
4. Look out for 'missed delivery' messages
Another classic Black Friday scam is known as the 'missed delivery' scam. It usually comes through as a text message suggesting you have a parcel waiting with Evri, Royal Mail or another delivery provider. If you're planning on buying lots or doing all your Christmas shopping, it can be difficult keeping track of what you've purchased and when it's arriving. Therefore, when you receive a text saying you need to claim a package, it can be quite believable.
If the text message asks you to click on a link or pay a collection fee, then it most likely is a scam. Most delivery couriers will leave a paper slip if they miss you, providing instructions on how you can get it redelivered. It's always best to follow these rather than a text.
At the end of the day, if you do miss a parcel and it has to go back to the retailer, you'll get your money back. This is always a safer option than risking someone scamming you.
5. Try to use a credit card instead of a debit card
If there's an option to purchase your Black Friday deal with a credit card instead of a debit, try and do that. Credit cards offer fraud liability protection, something that debit cards do not, meaning online purchases bought with a credit card have less of a risk.
What should you do if you've been scammed?
If you think you've been scammed, you must contact your bank immediately. In a lot of cases, your bank will be able to stop the payment and return it to your account. If the scam involved entering your username or password for any online accounts, you must change your password immediately, as well as on any other account the same password is used.
You should then report the scam to Action Fraud either through their website or by calling 0300 123 2040.