Black Friday scams: 10 cyber-frauds to watch out for & how to spot them
With Black Friday round the corner, cybercriminals will be out in full force finding new ways to defraud you.
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Black Friday, along with Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping events in the calendar worldwide, and many across the UK will already be scanning the internet looking for a bargain. However, the rise of online shopping is attracting increasing amounts of cybercriminals, who are finding new ways to defraud vulnerable consumers.
In 2022, the number of purchase scams reported rose by 34% over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to research from Barclays Bank. Cybercriminals are expected to be out in full force again this time around so its important consumer's stay up to date with the latest frauds.
Fortunately, we've teamed up with the personal finance experts at Wealth of Geeks to share ten of the most common Black Friday/Cyber Monday scams that catch shoppers out and how to spot them ahead of the big weekend.
Incorrect bank details scam
One of the most common Black Friday frauds is the incorrect bank details scam. This is when scammers email shoppers to say their billing information is incorrect, and that it needs changing immediately or the order will be void.
If a retailer asks you to change your bank details with urgency and claims there is a risk of losing out on an order you have made, then you should be suspicious. Essentially, they are hoping to draw you into entering your bank details into a fake website that they have made to look real.
Regardless of whether you believe your bank details are correct or not, you should contact the retailer directly with any order confirmation or information so you can receive legitimate information on your account.
Black Friday scams to watch out for
Hot deal scam
We've all seen those websites that advertise the item you're looking for at a huge reduced rate. It's easy to get sucked in but it might be a one-way ticket to losing your money.
While Black Friday weekend is full of great deals, certain popular items are advertised on fake websites that are generally hard to find. These items turn out to be illegitimate and it will result in you paying for a product you will never receive- and the scammer now possesses your payment details.
If you come across an item like this, check the legitimacy of the product or the seller by either running the URL through Google's Safe Browsing Transparency Report or have a look at review websites such as Trustpilot - just beware, if you're starting to see a load of positive reviews saying the same, it's likely they're fake.
Phishing emails are commonly used throughout the year, and Black Friday is no different. Phishing emails are designed to trick users into disclosing sensitive confidential information.
It is important to not click on any links or pop-ups from sources that you are not familiar with. This also applies to website, including suspect URLs (ones with no ‘https.’ or locked padlock symbol on the bar) and websites with poor design.
Fake tracking number scam
Fraudsters are sending fake package tracking notifications as an email attachment or link. Scammers use these tactics to infect your device with malware or direct you to phishing sites.
Legitimate retailers will never send tracking numbers via an attachment. They are normally directly in your inbox or accessed via the retailer's website. Therefore, always visit the seller’s site to get accurate tracking information for your order.
Often, you may receive a suspicious-looking message with a link to a well-known website, urging you to click to secure a great deal. Scammers will replicate the retailer website’s URLs and layouts, which makes it extremely hard to spot whether it is fraudulent or not.
However, majority of the time the link is fake, and clicking on it will invite an intrusion of malware on your device, making your personal information vulnerable. Once they have encouraged people to click, they will then send phishing messages and keylogging malware straight to your device.
Before clicking on a so-called deal, go direct to the retailer's official online website to see if that same deal is there.
Fake charity scam
Especially during the Christmas season there will be a surge in charity donations, and scammers are aware of this. Therefore, they set up fake charities and use high-pressure tactics to get you to donate.
Often you can spot a fake charity with the face they only accept payment through gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency. You can check if a charity is legitimate through the Fundraising Regulator’s online directory.
Fake social media profiles
Social media profiles are simple to impersonate, as all a scammer must do is copy their logo, branding, hashtags, and content etc. This mode of communication can trick customers into giving personal information or data or sell counterfeit products.
You can often spot if a social media website is fake through its aggressive advertising campaigns. Always check if there is an alternative official social media account which is verified or has more followers before clicking on the one you have come across.
Fake product reviews
Fake product reviews are usually over-packed with technical jargon and feature unusual phrases. However, it is in fact humans that are promoting these in exchange for payment from the product manufacturer.
There are 'review exchange' clubs online, normally on social media sites, where sellers on sites like Amazon will offer goods in return for overly generous comments-often ones that are extremely misleading.
Therefore, if you want to get a more accurate review of a product, compare reviews of the same product on several other official retailers before you purchase.
‘Grey Market’ distribution
During Black Friday, brands will be using all kinds of channels to market and sell their products. However, when a product falls out of a brand’s authorised network, they will no longer have control.
When this happens, unauthorised sellers may not properly display, package, handle, or ship the correctly. Therefore, returning or exchanging the product will be a lot more difficult.
Gift card and discount scams
Typically used as part of Christmas scams, cybercriminals will offer gift cards at a discount, but these cards are either empty or stolen. You should only buy gift cards from reputable sources, such as the retailer’s official store or online website.
Similarly, discounts and coupons received via email or social media that are advertised as huge discounts, can also be void. Therefore, verify the source of the coupon to ensure its valid before using it.