Tips to help you avoid scams while shopping online this Black Friday

With an estimated £6billion to be spent in the UK this year on Black Friday (27 November) and Cyber Monday (30 November), The Consumer Council has issued essential guidance to ensure consumers know their rights and shop safely online.

Kellin McCloskey, Head of Postal Policy at The Consumer Council, said: “Scams are getting more sophisticated and it can be difficult to spot the difference between scammers and legitimate companies.

“With many of us taking our shopping online this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we thought it would be useful to compile a few top tips to help consumers shop safely and avoid any costly pitfalls.”

The Consumer Council’s top tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Be wary of suspicious Delivery Advice Cards – Consumers should consider whether they are expecting a delivery from the company named on the card.  If in doubt, do not share payment details or personal information. Also, avoid calling the telephone number provided on the card as this may direct you to a premium rated line. Instead get in contact with the company by finding the official phone number on their website or contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022.
  • If you receive an unsolicited text or email, don’t enter personal information or payment details – A common scam that is occurring these days is when a consumer receives a text or email claiming to be from a legitimate parcel delivery company asking for additional details to complete a delivery. If you are unsure if an email or text is genuine, contact the parcel delivery company directly using the number from their website to confirm.
  • Avoid buying unsafe or counterfeit goods – When shopping online, be cautious of goods that are being sold at low or tempting prices. Just remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, then often it is.
  • Make sure to buy from a reputable retailer – If you are buying from a company you have never used before, research them first by checking for reviews or feedback from previous customers.
  • Stay secure when making payments online – Always look for a padlock in the browser bar and make sure the web address has an 's' after 'http', the ‘s’ stands for secure. These do not guarantee that a website is safe to use but help to identify any that cannot be trusted.
  • Be careful when clicking links on social media or in emails – When you click a website link that then asks you to enter personal information or payment details, it is better to type in the website address yourself. This is because links may direct you to a fake, but realistic looking, website.
  • Don’t fall victim to a brushing scam – This is when fraudsters set up accounts in a strangers name, mainly for online market places, then send their low value products to an unsuspecting recipient. They then use this account to write fake ‘verified reviews’ in a bid to improve their seller ratings.  If you think you’ve been targeted contact the marketplace and report it straight away.

Kellin added: “The Consumer Council has a number of useful resources available to consumers, including ‘Your Guide to Shopping Safely Online’ and our ‘How to spot scam mail’ guide. We would recommend that consumers read these before doing any online shopping.”

Notes:

  1. Source: Finder (2020). Black Friday statistics. Retrieved from https://www.finder.com/uk/black-friday-statistics
  2. Your Guide to Shopping Safely Online: https://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/shoppingsafelyonline
  3. How to spot scam mail: https://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/policy-research/publications/how-spot-scam-mail
Last updated 2 months ago