Residents looking to get the most from online bargains, have been warned to look out for scams ahead of Black Friday.
Black Friday is traditionally the day after Thanksgiving in the US, where retailers offer large deals and savings on items and is considered the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The event was adopted in the UK a few years ago, offering shoppers similar deals ahead of Christmas.
Scams can present themselves in the form of emails or texts offering deals, fake websites and social media posts selling non-existent goods. Tips to ensure that shoppers decrease their chance of falling victim to a scam include:
- Make sure the website is authentic by checking that it is spelled correctly, the web address starts with ‘https’ and it has a closed padlock icon next to the web address.
- Don’t pay directly to a person or a company that you don’t know/recognise – if it is a scam, the bank may not be able to recover your money.
- Beware of ‘low cost’ or ‘free’ trials – some sites will sign you up to monthly direct debits that can be extremely difficult to cancel.
- If you’re looking to book a holiday – check independent reviews, away from the website offering the deal, and make sure the travel agents are genuine by looking up their ABTA/ATOL number.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Black Friday can be a great opportunity to get Christmas presents for a fantastic deal – but it can pose a risk to anyone shopping online.
“Online criminals are very sophisticated and can create realistic emails, texts and websites in order to scam people out of their money.
“Online crime can be very difficult to prosecute as it can happen from anywhere across the world. This is why prevention is the key – the more we know about how to spot the signs of a scam, the less likely we are to be targeted.
“I would urge anyone to double-check the sites that they are buying from and remain as safe as possible when shopping this Friday.
“If you have been or are targeted by an online scam, please report it to the Police on 101 and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”
Detective Inspector Duncan Brooker, of Cumbria’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Whilst you might be looking for a bargain during the sales criminals use it as an opportunity to scam people who are shopping online.
“As technology has evolved online scams have become more advanced and sometimes harder to spot so it’s important to remain vigilant. Signs of a scam include spelling mistakes, different web address, fake social media accounts and encouraging payments by pre-loaded money card, bank transfer etc.
“When making purchases do your research, look at reviews and check for the secure padlock in the web address.
“If you are making a purchase use a credit card if you have one as most credit card providers insure online purchases.
“If you have family and friends that aren’t tech savvy please make them aware of such scams so that they know how criminals work to trick individuals into giving their details.
“We’d encourage you to report these scams to Action Fraud so forces can act to fight them and prosecute criminals.”