BLOG: Bargain or a scam? Take Five

Black Friday is widely seen as a great opportunity to score deals on expensive electrical goods and designer items, or to finally purchase that expensive footwear you’ve had your eye on for a while at a discounted price.

However, it is also many criminals’ favourite time of the year to trick people into purchasing things that subsequently turn out not to exist, in the knowledge that customers can be especially vulnerable in the heat of the moment when trying to grab a bargain.

Criminals are continuing to adapt and exploit the growth in online shopping, using techniques such as spoofed websites, fake adverts listed on auction sites or social media, and phishing emails to trick customers into parting with their money. They will often request that the payment be made through bank transfer prior to delivery, in order to seal the deal and send fake e-receipts or confirmation emails using the logo and branding of trusted organisations to convince you they’re genuine. Many different types of purchase scam take place, but during periods of lockdown there has been a particular increase in fake advertisements for DIY equipment, electronic goods including games consoles and phones. There has also been a resurgence in pet scams, with criminals citing lockdown restrictions as the reason buyers are unable to view their new fluffy friend.

With more of us having to do our shopping online due to the pandemic, it has become increasingly important to be vigilant, stop and challenge any deals that seem ‘too good to be true’ and to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is, especially  items advertised on online auction sites, online marketplaces and auction websites.

It is best to purchase high value items from trusted retailers, and to only use the recommended secure payment method. You should also ensure you do lots of research before finalising any purchases by reading reviews from reputable sources to check sellers and websites are genuine. Criminals are experts at sending emails purporting to be from genuine organisations, so it’s important not to click on any links contained within the email and access websites you want to purchase from by typing the web address directly into your web browser. Additionally, where possible it is a good idea to use a credit card when making purchases over £100 and up to £30,000 to benefit from protection under Section 75.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, watch out for the tricks used by criminals to try and scam you – and Take Five before making purchases.

Visit the Take Five to Stop Fraud website.

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