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4 Black Friday Scams  and How to Avoid Them

Scammers will take advantage of any opportunity they can to con people out of their hard earned cash, and Black Friday is no exception.

Here are four scams that you need to watch out for as we near Black Friday 2021.

Black Friday promotion phishing emails

Most retailers advertise their Black Friday discounts via email and this gives scammers the perfect opportunity to send out phishing emails that don’t look suspicious or out of place.

A phishing email is where scammers pose as a genuine retailer, company, organisation, or bank in an attempt to steal people’s personal information and bank details.

In this case, scammers will send out phishing emails that advertise Black Friday discounts. They usually spoof large companies, like Amazon, that have millions of customers and will undeniably have Black Friday deals on.

They will create a fake email address and display name so it looks genuine when it pops up in people’s mail boxes, and they will copy the format of genuine emails that have been sent out from the retailer in the past.

The email will contain a link to the ‘retailer’s’ website which they will urge you to click if you want to access the ‘deals’. This, however, will actually take you to a bogus website which has been designed to steal your information. Malicious websites like this may also download viruses and malware onto your device.  

How to identify and avoid fake Black Friday emails

Scammers are constantly developing their skills and techniques to make phishing emails harder to detect every day. However, there are still a couple of tell-tale signs.

The most important thing is to look closely at is the sender’s email address. Scammers won’t be able to use the genuine retailer’s domain so they will spoof it to look as similar as possible. Look for any random numbers, letters, or symbols that look suspicious.

Also check the email for any spelling or grammar errors and look at the overall language used and formatting of the email. Phishing emails are getting more difficult to detect, but bad formatting and spelling/grammar is usually a big give away.

Facebook and Instagram messaging scams

Scammers hack into users’ Facebook and Instagram accounts and send messages to their contacts so they appear to have come from the hacked user.

Around Black Friday they will send links to websites which are supposedly offering the best deals, or even pre-loaded gift cards for well-known retailers. They will claim that they’ve just bought theirs and that it’s completely legitimate in order to trick you.

The site that the link leads you to will look completely genuine, but the items/gift cards don’t exist and once you’ve entered your bank details then the scammers will take the money and disappear.

How to identify and avoid social media messaging scams

Consider who has sent you the message and whether it’s someone that you interact with usually. If it’s somebody that you never speak to online and this message appears out of the blue then you should act with suspicion.

If it’s somebody that you know well then also look at how the message is worded and whether this is normal for how you usually speak to eachother.

If you receive a message like this from anyone then you should always contact them via an alternative method to check whether it’s genuine. If it’s not genuine, then they should be informed so they can sort the problem to prevent other from falling victim.

‘There is a problem with your delivery’ scams

This type of scam most commonly comes in the form of a phishing email.

Online orders go through the roof during the festive season and most households will have something due for delivery this time of year. This is another thing that scammers can use to their advantage.

They pose as a well known delivery service, like Royal Mail or DPD, and send out emails to say that there’s a problem with your delivery. They will urge you to follow a link to ‘rearrange your delivery’ and threat that your item will be sent back to the retailer if you don’t act quickly. They know this tactic will work around Black Friday and Christmas!

The link will take you to a malicious website, designed to look like the genuine site of the company they’re spoofing, which will capture your personal information so they can steal your identity. They may also ask you to pay for your delivery to be rearranged.

How to identify and avoid a fake delivery scam

If you receive an email that says there is a problem with your delivery, and you do have deliveries due, then go to the courier’s website through your search engine – NOT the link in the email. Then find your tracking number through the website that you ordered from and enter this on the courier’s tracking portal. This will tell you whether there are any delivery problems, and it will also alert you if the tracking number is incorrect. In that case, you will know that the retailer is using a different courier service and that the email is a scam.

Bogus retailers

Some criminals will set up entirely malicious retail websites which advertise products that simply don’t exist.

These scammers will often steal images and descriptions from genuine retailers but advertise the products at a much cheaper price. They will usually use social media and emails to advertise their site.

If you order a product from one of these website, they will keep the money and then send you something entirely different or nothing at all.

If you try to contact them then they will ignore any emails or phone calls, if they provide any contact details at all.

How to identify and avoid bogus retailers

If you’re looking to buy particular brands and products this Black Friday then make sure you’re only looking at the brand’s genuine website, or a well-known trusted stockist like Amazon.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase anything from a website that you haven’t heard of before, but just be vigilant.

Only shop on websites with a padlock symbol in the address bar and a URL that starts with HTTPS. This means that it’s a safe and secure website and any information that you enter will be encrypted and therefore unreadable by prying eyes.

If you also shop with a credit card, this means that you’ll have extra protection if things do go wrong. When you spend more than £100 on a credit card then you will be protected under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means that your credit card provider can be held responsible and issue a refund if you never receive something that you ordered online, or if there is a problem with a purchase that the seller won’t resolve.


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