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Published: 17 November 2023

Are you waiting impatiently for Black Friday to come around before stocking up on Christmas presents? Or are you planning on treating yourself to that big ticket item you’ve been eyeing up? But as much as the last Friday in November can fill you with money-saving glee, there’s also the chance of things going very wrong.

Don’t worry – we’ve got some tips to help you spot some common Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams, letting you shop in safety.

Uncharted waters

When the hunt for a bargain gets serious, it’s easy to find yourself being led to an unfamiliar website by a ‘too good to be true’ price. If this unrealistic discount isn’t enough of a red flag, try searching the company’s name on TrustPilot to see if they’re a genuine seller with satisfied customers.

Either way, it’s probably not a good idea to buy from these kinds of websites, especially at this time of year.

An unexpected parcel

Ever get so carried away with online shopping that you can’t quite remember everything you’ve ordered? We’re not judging! But this can make you vulnerable to fake package notifications.

Scammers often send out fraudulent texts claiming they’ve tried to deliver your order but were unsuccessful. They’ll then often ask you to click on a link to re-arrange your delivery, or even claim you must pay a fee.

Don’t click on any links if you think your text might not be legit, as you risk leaking your details. To get an idea of what this scam can look like, take a look at these examples from Royal Mail.

(Overly) direct messages

It’s the sign of a good friend if they let you know about the great deals they’ve found. But if they send you a message completely out of the blue that sounds like a robot wrote it, it’s more of a sign that you’re being scammed.

This scam happens most often on WhatsApp and will contain a link alongside the ‘amazing offer’ you’re being told about. Never click on these links, even if you think there’s a chance it’s a legit message, and instead search for the offer yourself. If it’s the real deal, it won’t take you long to find.

Do your research

If you already know what you want to get in the sales, make a note (or take a screenshot) of the ‘normal’ price. The sooner you can do this before Black Friday, the better, as retailers often raise prices just before the day itself. This means that the ‘discounted’ price is often the same price it was earlier in the year.

Another way to get an idea of whether an item is truly discounted is by looking at other stores. They may well be offering the same price without even taking part in the sale!

Even outside of the festive period, it’s important to Take Five when considering whether something could be a scam. Remember to always:

  • Stop and think before parting with money or information
  • Challenge, reject or ignore any requests you think are fake
  • Protect your money by immediately contacting your bank if you think you’ve fallen for a scam

This information is intended as a guide only, and is not exhaustive of the ways in which fraud can occur, or the ways in which you can protect your information.

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