Don’t fall foul of Black Friday scammers – that’s the message from Cheshire East Council.
People are being warned that conmen are preying on unsuspecting shoppers, as they seek out festive bargains online and elsewhere.
The council’s trading standards team fears that this week’s anticipated Black Friday online shopping spree could see more people falling victim to fraudsters, owing to the current rules on non-essential high street retail.
Residents are urged only to use legitimate online shopping sites and to be aware of the tell-tale signs of unscrupulous dealers, who exploit unsuspecting internet shoppers, some of whom may not be used to buying online.
There has been a steady increase in the number of people who have fallen victim to scams connected to Black Friday in recent years and the council is urging people to be vigilant.
Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, says UK online shoppers lost a startling £16m during the first lockdown between March and June and that figure could be even higher.
Councillor Mick Warren, cabinet member for communities, said: “The internet is a convenient way for us to buy goods or services from the comfort of our home. It gives us access to millions of products from all over the world, but this in return brings its own risks. Online safety is important to ensure you are getting what you pay for, your money is safe and that the whole experience remains positive.”
You may see Black Friday offers in various places online, such as on social media platforms, retailers’ websites and resale or auction sites. Fraudsters will use all of these means to try to get you to part with your money. Get Safe Online, the UK’s leading authority in online safety and security, gives these expert tips to help you and others spot and avoid the scams that are out there:
· Ensure shopping websites are authentic by carefully checking the address is spelled correctly. Type it in rather than clicking on a link in an email, text or post. Fraudsters can set up convincing websites with an appearance and address very similar to the authentic one;
· Make sure payment pages are secure by checking that addresses begin with ‘https’ (‘s’ is for secure) and there’s a closed padlock in the address bar;
· Don’t pay for anything by transferring money directly to people or companies you don’t know, however keen you are to buy. If it’s a fraud, it’s doubtful the bank will be able to recover or refund your money. If you can, pay by credit card; and
· Avoid clicking on links in unexpected emails, texts or posts, or email attachments. At this time of year, fake parcel firm delivery notifications are commonplace attachments or links: they could lead to fraud or identity theft.
When paying for goods, it’s important to remember that paying by credit card offers greater protection than with other methods, in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery.
You should also try to safeguard and remember the password you have chosen for the extra verification services used on some websites, such as ‘Verified by Visa’ and never pay for goods when using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.
If you, or someone you know, has purchased goods or services online and you are experiencing problems with the retailer, the Citizens Advice Consumer service can advise you on your consumer rights. They are available on 0808 223 1133, or they can be contacted online at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/if-you-need-more-help-about-a-consumer-issue/