Beware of Black Friday scammers

Consumers are more at risk of online for Black Friday (November 27th) and the lead up to the Christmas period than ever before, UK Finance has warned.

The banking trade body says the lead up to Christmas will be very different this year with many of the nation’s shops being closed thanks to the pandemic.

Cash in

They fear scammers are ready to cash in as shoppers search the internet for the best deals on Christmas gifts.

A spokesman said that consumers looking for the bargains on games consoles, bicycles and clothing are at much higher risk of being scammed as they struggle with the restrictions of the second lockdown in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Warned

UK Finance warned that social media platforms, online market places and auction websites are increasingly being used by criminals to carry out these purchase scams, where a customer pays in advance for goods or services that are never received.

In the first half of this year £27 million was lost to such frauds, with an average loss of £720 per case.

Data harvesting

As well as the instant financial loss of an online scam, consumers are leaving themselves open to a massive data harvesting drive by criminals. The drive will collect personal and financial information on ‘marks’, including debit and credit card details, which are later used to commit other frauds.

Katy Worobec of UK Finance said: “As consumer spending has shifted online, criminals have ruthlessly adjusted their approaches to pursue those shopping on the internet. With Black Friday and Christmas approaching, fraudsters are again stepping up their efforts to take advantage of consumers searching for bargains.

On the rise

“Intelligence from our members across the banking and finance industry shows that purchase scams are on the rise, with buyers of games consoles, bicycles and clothing at high risk — as well as those making home improvement and DIY purchases.

“The banking and finance industry is working hard to protect customers from this threat, with almost £7 in £10 of unauthorised fraud prevented in the first half of this year. However, we must all must remain vigilant against scams.

Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information, and don’t let a criminal rush or panic you into making a decision that you’ll later come to regret.

Staying safe

“To stay safe, consumers should remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to stay safe when shopping online.”

Take Five is a national campaign offering straightforward impartial advice that helps prevent email, phone-based and online fraud – particularly where criminals impersonate trusted organisations.