SHOPPERS don’t just risk spending more than they bargained for this Black Friday weekend, they risk getting scammed.
Drawn into the excitement of a bargain, around 15 million Brits run the risk of getting caught out by scammers flogging goods on unsecured or scam websites.
Nearly half of 16 to 34 year-old shoppers surveyed by the Financial Fraud Action UK said they were prepared to take greater risks when shopping online if they thought they were getting a good deal.
Kate Worobec, director of FFA UK, said: ‘Shopping on the internet is easy, convenient and generally very safe, but it can also provide an opportunity for criminals to commit financial fraud from a distance.
“Fraudsters will use a variety of convincing tactics to entice unsuspecting shoppers to give over their financial details – from unsolicited emails to fake retail websites and bogus ads.
“Shoppers, wanting to take advantage of these too-good-to-be-true deals, are putting themselves at risk by not taking the time to take five and protect themselves.”
In a sign of the times, 24 per cent of over 1,900 people surveyed said the ‘fear of missing out’ on a great deal spurned led them to let their guard down when shopping online.
Worse still, 19 per cent admitted they would click on an unsolicited email if it promised a good deal.
In total, nearly 40 per cent of Brits admitted their shopping habits change when the words ‘bargain’ or ‘sale’ are flashed in front of them.
The findings have been published alongside FFA’s UK’s latest drive to encourage people to stop and think for five minutes before spending their cash online.
It’s easy to get carried away during an event like Black Friday, but here are five top tips to make sure you stay safe online during the sales season:
As FFA UK said: “If an offer looks too good to believe then there is usually a catch. Be suspicious of prices that are too good to be true.”
This is especially important for high-ticket items like laptops or smartphones.
If you suddenly see an email or advert purporting to knock hundreds or even thousands of pounds off for a high-tech item you’ve been searching for online, then be very wary.
When sales shopping, people are more likely to deal with online retailers they are unfamiliar with.
Many could well be genuine retailers, but some won’t be.
If you get an unsolicited email with a bunch of discounts on it, type the name of the retailer into Google and see if it appears legitimate.
Look out for a small padlock image on the address bar on online sites, as this gives a good indication that the site is genuine and any payment will be processed securely.
To get a better picture of whether a retailer is genuine and not simply trying to nab your personal or banking details, look at online reviews of the company you are dealing with.
If the company you’re thinking of parting your cash with has been branded or scam, doesn’t answer phone calls or consistently provides poor customer service, then give your custom to another firm, even if means paying slightly more.
If you’re sure the online retailer’s website you’re using is genuine and have added the item to your shopping basket, stop and think about how you want to pay for it.
A spokesperson for the Money Advice Service told The Sun Online: “It can be a good idea to pay for items with your credit card because it can provide you with an extra layer of protection if things go wrong – but you should aim to pay it off in full when payment is due.”
If you use your credit card to buy something for £100 or more and up to £30,000, you are covered by the 2015 Consumer Credit Act.
As ever though, don’t spend for the sake of it and lumber yourself with debts and, of course, don’t part with any money if you think the retailer in question looks dodgy.
If you’re unlucky enough to come across a scam retailer, let Citizens Advice or Trading Standards know.
If you’ve already spent money on a site which you’ve now discovered is a scam, contact Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre.
To ensure your complaint is looked into properly, provide as much information you can about where you purchased the item from, when, for how much and, if you’ve lost money, how much.
As a consumer, before buying anything it pays to know your rights if you want you want your money back.
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