The UK’s community bank, Metro Bank, is offering consumers guidance about one of the busiest times of the year for purchase scams – Black Friday. Traditionally, in late November, Black Friday kicks off one of the busiest online shopping sprees as retailers discount massively ahead of Christmas and criminals take advantage of the anonymity of the internet to create new opportunities to trick consumers with purchase scams.
Purchase scams occur when criminals deceive customers into paying in advance for goods and services that simply don’t exist. Purchase scams are the most common of all scams making up 70% of all fraud.
“Black Friday purchase scams can be hard to spot and consumers need to be extra vigilant at this time of year,” explains Adam Speakman, head of fraud and investigations at Metro Bank. “Many leading brands and websites offer fantastic deals, making the scams hard to spot – something criminals rely on with their too good to be true offers. This is definitely the time of year consumers should purchase from known suppliers, using secure payment platforms and resist any pressure to act quickly, while being particularly wary of any offers on social media.
“Always do background checks on the seller and satisfy yourself it’s genuine BEFORE you make any payment.”
Purchase Scams Red Flags
- Only buy from websites which are legitimate, but please bear in mind genuine websites can be cloned. If you’re unsure, do some independent research around the retailer – don’t rely on the company’s own reviews.
- Avoid sending payments via faster payment and use a secure payment platform such as PayPal, card purchase or pay on collection/delivery.
- Always carry out independent checks into the seller – find out how long their profile has been active and whether they’ve sold any products previously.
- Check the average price of a product and consider whether the price is too good to be true, if it is it will usually be a scam.
- Question where products are being sourced from and any discounts the seller is offering.
In addition to these red flags, consumers can fall victim to a scam, not only through bank transfer, but also as a result of card payments. More advice about scams can be found at the Take Five website, Citizens Advice and Trading Standards.
A key thing to remember is, if anyone receives a text message they believe to be a scam, report the message immediately by forwarding it to 7726 and your telephone provider will investigate.