Black Friday is just one week away, but shoppers keen to bag a bargain should be wary of scams trying to cash-in on the sales frenzy.
Almost a quarter of 18 to 34-year-olds have fallen for a Black Friday scam in the past five years, according to a new survey.
Fraudsters use tricks including fake adverts, selling non-existent goods, and ‘skimming’ personal data to steal an average of £661 per victim.
Here, we look at how to avoid Black Friday scams, and other tips to help you find genuine deals.
How to avoid a Black Friday scam
According to a Barclays’ survey of 2,000 UK residents, nearly one in four 18 to 34-year-olds have been victims of Black Friday scams since 2014.
Victims lose £661 each on average from these scams, with headphones, laptops, phones, tablets and TVs commonly being used to lure them in.
According to the data, one in 10 shopping scams results in losses of more than £2,000.
Scams on Black Friday work the same way they do on any day, but with heavily cut prices encouraging shoppers to spend quickly, it can be easier to make a rushed purchase without pausing to check it’s safe.
Before you buy anything on Black Friday, make sure you:
Use trusted websites with secure checkouts
Big-name brands you know and trust or 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.
- Find out more: how to spot a fake, fraudulent or scam website
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, including a tactical repositioning of the ‘dot’ (w.hich.co.uk instead of which.co.uk) or clever switching of letters that could look similar to other letters (arnazon.co.uk instead of amazon.co.uk).
Double-check that you’re buying from the website you thought you were buying from before making any purchase.
- Find out more: how to spot a copycat website
Beware of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ deals
The hype around Black Friday makes it seem like truly impossible deals could become reality, but as always, anything that seems too good to be true probably is.
Reductions of hundreds or thousands of pounds are grounds to be wary. Make sure you’re extra careful before you add these items to your basket.
Watch out for fake reviews
Which? research has revealed that fake or misleading reviews are all over the internet, encouraging shoppers to purchase poor-quality goods.
Often, reviewers are incentivised to leave unrealistically positive feedback with offers of payment.
If multiple reviews are similar, the seller might have given fake reviewers a template to use.
It’s also helpful to check reviewers’ other reviews, to see if they rate everything five stars. If they do, it’s possible they’re doing it as a job – unless they just really love everything they buy.
- Find out more: how to spot a fake review
How to find real Black Friday deals
Scams aren’t the only thing you need to worry about on Black Friday.
Which? has found that many cut-price products turn out to be the same price or cheaper later in the year, so in many cases, you can ignore the ‘buy it now’ pressure that many retailers pile on.
When we tracked the prices of 94 popular home, tech and personal care products six months before and after Black Friday 2017, we found that 87% of them were available for the same price or cheaper at different times of the year.
It was similar when the Which? Travel team looked at Black Friday holiday ‘deals’ – many of which were actually cheaper two weeks after Black Friday.
If there’s something you’re thinking of buying when the big day comes, keep an eye on its price throughout the year so you’ll know good discount when you see it.
You can also use price-tracking websites such as CamelCamelCamel or PriceSpy to see how products have been discounted over time.
Find out more in our guide to Black Friday 2019.
What to do if you’re scammed
You can also report a scam by following our guide to help shut scammers down.