Last year, online shoppers in the UK were defrauded of £2.5m over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period, an average loss of almost £550 per victim.
According to Action Fraud, more than 28,000 shoppers reported being conned out of their money when shopping online over the Christmas period last year, up almost two-thirds (61 per cent) compared to 2019.
Shoppers reported making purchases that never arrived, such as mobile phones, electronics, vehicles, clothing and footwear on websites like Facebook, eBay and Gumtree.
Many reported being subsequently targeted by criminals who used their bank details, which they gave while making transactions they thought were genuine.
With this in mind, these are some of the most common Black Friday shopping scams to look out for:
Too good to be true
Some bargains might sound “too good to be true” - which likely means they are not real. Action Fraud director Pauline Smith advises shoppers to “stop and think before making a purchase, as it could protect you and your money”.
“Always shop with official retailers and follow our simple advice to enjoy shopping online safely and ensure you are not left empty-handed this Christmas,” she says.
One of the most common tactics used to trick consumers is the use of fake websites masquerading as real companies.
These sophisticated website are created to look identical to the real website and will advertise items at a much cheaper price.
Which? recommends double-checking the domain name of a website you aren’t sure of before making any purchases.
“A lot of fraudulent websites will use a domain name that references a well-known brand or product name, but won’t be the official website,” the consumer champion says.
It also warns against paying for something online via a bank transfer, checking the site’s return policy, and reading online reviews to ensure you’re shopping with a genuine company.
Scammers have been known to send fake emails, known as phishing or spoof emails, from well-known companies to trick people into providing their bank details.
The Metropolitan Police warn that these emails often use similar email addresses and stolen logos that may appear genuine.
“You can check if emails are genuine by contacting the company directly,” the force advises.
“Don’t do this by using the contact details or live chat functions on the email received, use known contact details (preferably phone), or log into your account to confirm.”
Social media adverts
Scammers have been known to pose as advertisers and use social media platforms to target their victims.
According to Which?, these fraudsters usually try to exploit social media platforms with the knowledge that many people are used to seeing and trusting adverts from genuine advertisers there.
“Stay vigilant when you see new companies, organisations or brands pop up on your feed,” it says.
Some of the most common social media scams include slimming or vitamin supplements fitness equipment and beauty products that promise “quick fixes”, designer fragrance, clothing, shoes and sportswear at heavily discounted prices, electronic devices like phones and tablet, pension schemes, and insurance policies.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, you should contact your bank immediately and report it online to Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.