November 27, 2022

Shoppers aren’t the only ones hoping to take advantage of Black Friday today. Scammers also hope to cash in. Crime reporter SIMON PARKIN explains how to stay one step ahead of scams

Black Friday creates opportunities not only for bargain hunters, but also for scammers.

Figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) revealed that people lost £15.3 million over the festive period last year – with the average loss being £1,000.

Total consumer losses in Norfolk to fraud and cybercrime rose 20-fold in the last three months of 2021, which covered Black Friday and Christmas.

Examples of scams included one shopper losing more than £150 trying to buy a mobile phone via social media and another being conned out of £7,000 while trying to buy a van online.

Eastern Daily Press: Victims' losses to fraud rise in the period covering Black Friday and Christmas shoppingVictim losses to fraud increase during the period covering Black Friday and Christmas shopping (Image: PA)

Now, a campaign has been launched giving shoppers tips for Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season.

This tip includes protecting accounts with two-step verification and strong passwords using three random words.

Shoppers are also advised to research online retailers by checking consumer feedback and websites and to pay securely with credit cards if possible as they offer better protection or payment platforms such as PayPal, Google or Apple Pay.

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “I urge shoppers to be careful where and from whom they buy.

“Where possible, use a credit card when shopping online as this will give you more protection if something goes wrong.

“Follow our practical tips to enjoy safe online shopping and make sure you’re not targeted this Christmas, especially given the cost of living crisis we’re facing.”

NFIB data showed that nearly half of scams reported to Action Fraud mentioned a social media platform, making it the most likely means of fraud for purchases and auctions.

Of the 19,744 fraud reports, 20% were related to the purchase of electronics and 13% to mobile phones.

The data also showed that the demographic most likely to fall victim to online shopping scams was 19-25 year olds.

Black Friday scams: shoppers warned what to watch out for

Order confirmation scams
A common phishing technique is fake order confirmation emails.

These emails will claim that an order has been confirmed, but won’t actually tell you what the order is.

Instead, you’ll be encouraged to click on a link and be directed to a page that looks exactly like the merchant’s website, but the fraudsters will get your personal information.

Fake invoices
Scam invoices claim that your payment was not received and ask you to re-enter your bank details or request payment via PayPal.

If you receive one of these bills unexpectedly, regardless of whether you think you tried to buy, read it carefully and compare it to your most recent bank statement.

Fraudulent billing error
Scammers will often email buyers saying their billing information is incorrect and must be changed immediately to avoid losing an order.

They hope to lure you into entering your bank details into a fake website made to look like a real business. If you are not sure, contact the seller directly.

Eastern Daily Press: Example of an unsolicited scam text message that prompts people to link to a linkExample of an unsolicited scam text message that prompts people to link on the link (Image: Action Fraud)

Receiving instant messages
You may receive a suspicious-looking text message with a link to a well-known website, urging you to click through to secure a good deal.

Scammers will replicate the URL of the retailer’s website, making it difficult to identify whether it is fraudulent or not. When in doubt, never click.

Fake product reviews
Fake Amazon reviews have skyrocketed this year. These reviews – which are used to lull people into scams – often feature unusual turns of phrase and are full of technical jargon.

Be wary of overly generous, often repetitive and highly misleading comments.

Compared to other sites and reviews of legitimate organizations such as Which?

Pay securely
Use a credit card when shopping online if you have one.

Most card providers protect online purchases and are required to refund you in certain circumstances.

Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly affected.

Whenever you pay, look for the closed padlock in the web address bar – it means your connection is secure.

Help stop cyber worries

  • Got a suspicious text? Forward it to 7726
  • Forward suspicious emails to [email protected]
  • Report suspicious websites at ncsc.gov.uk/phishing-scams
  • If you are defrauded, please report it to Action Fraud or the police on 101

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