Black Friday deals can seem almost too good to be true, and while the annual event may be famed for hefty discounts and offers, there are some cases where scammers may be operating. Worryingly, seven percent of all UK shoppers were unknowingly a victim of fraud during last year’s peak shopping season, according to research by GBG.
However, based on estimates from UK retailers, this may still be a fraction of the proportion of customers who were really exposed.
Carol Hamilton is a fraud expert who works with the National Crime Agency and top banks, and ahead of Black Friday, she has spoken exclusively to Express.co.uk about the risk of scams.
She said: “Britons across the country are putting themselves at risk by continuing to prioritise cost and convenience over their own security – perhaps understandably expecting a range of groups like government and banks, which they hold accountable for addressing the problem – to be taking care of security in the background.
“In our recent survey into holiday-season fraud, we found that expectations beyond purchase are worryingly low: less than five percent of UK shoppers say warranty and transaction protection is a valuable option that would encourage them to proceed with a purchase.
“This is a worrying attitude, given the methods currently used by fraudsters, such as pop up sites that deceive and scam shoppers.
“If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is and users should stick to trusted sites.
“Be extra vigilant with checking your bank statement and if something seems unusual contact your bank immediately.
“Young shoppers are particularly vulnerable, as only half of 16 to 24 year olds understand the risks of credit card and identity fraud, which is much lower than any other age group.”
So, how does Ms Hamilton suggest a person reduce the risk of falling victim to fraud while shopping and banking online?
“Many victims to fraud have unintentionally released their own banking details,” she explained.
“When banking online, it’s important to follow the bank’s recommended steps exactly.
“Most consumers feel they could confidently recognise and explain an instance of credit card fraud or identity fraud.
“If banks want to get hold of you they will ask you to call them or read messages left for you on an official channel like an app.
“Your name, date of birth, account number, password are all high value items for a fraudster. Don’t give them what they need.”
Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and Fellow at McAfee, said: “Black Friday is a minefield for shoppers and presents a huge opportunity for cybercriminals to take advantage of unaware Brits.
“Bargain hunters need to think before they hand over their personal information to get the best deal, without being stung.
“Never feel panicked to get the best deal and take your time to make sure a site, email or app is legitimate before entering any personal information.
“Consumers should remember that if an advert for a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is – think before you click on a link to a discount.”