Beware Black Friday scams online

Today is Black Friday – the unofficial first day of Christmas shopping and one of the USA’s more recent exports. There are some great bargains to be had – some great tech bargains in particular – but it’s also open season for online scammers.

Here’s how to make sure you steer clear of online scams this Black Friday and beyond.

The cost of Black Friday scams

A recent study of 2,000 UK residents by Barclays’ Bank found that nearly one-in-four 18 to 34-year-olds have been victims of Black Friday scams since 2014 – losing an average of £661 in the process.

Most of these scams lured victims in with too-good-to-be-true offers for headphones, laptops, phones, tablets and TVs.

The study also found one-in-ten  shopping scams resulted in losses of more than £2,000.

How to spot a Black Friday scam

As with most online scams, unsuspecting shoppers are lured in with the promise of big discounts on much sought after items – the idea being that shoppers will be so dazzled by the deal, they’ll forget to check whether the site is actually genuine and safe.

And Black Friday, when many will go into a shopping frenzy, offers the perfect cover for scammers.

The best way to spot an online scam is to simply be vigilant – if something is offered in an unsolicited email or via a social media post, make sure you check the site offering the deal before entering any payment info.

If you get an email containing an offer, check for spelling mistakes and click on the email address to see where it’s from – many scammers now hide their real email behind an official-looking one – and always hover over any links to see the URL before you click on a link.

And trust your instincts – if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How to shop safely online this Black Friday

Follow these quick tips to shop safely online this Black Friday…

  • Use trusted websites with secure checkouts and online marketplaces with good reputations are your best bet for Black Friday.
  • Check for the padlock beside the web address before you enter your card details.
  • Check the website address Online scammers are known to create convincing-looking copies of websites with URLs that are slightly different from the real thing. There are a number of ways to do this, such as moving dots around – think c.onferencecall.co.uk instead of conferencecall.co.uk – or slight letter changes – like confereneecall.co.uk instead of conferencecall.co.uk
  • Double-check that you’re buying from the website you thought you were buying from before making any purchase.

It also helps to make sure your systems are protected from scams. Common browsers such as Safari, Mozilla or Internet Explorer are already quite well armed against spam or phishing. In order to maintain this protection, updates should be made on a regular basis. This also applies to the operating system of the device used, whether smartphone or PC.

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