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Buyer Beware

3rd November 2023

Metro Bank is asking consumers to be aware of the various purchase scams that ramp up towards the end of November with Black Friday on November 24th and Cyber Monday on November 27th - one of the biggest shopping events of the year - as its November scam of the month warning.

Last year UK consumers spent nearly £9 billon (£8.7b) over the course of the Black Friday weekend, over £5 billion of which was spent online and scammers try and capitalise on this mass shopping event to tempt consumers to buy goods and services that will never turn up.

Overall purchase scams equate to 58% of all scams reported to Metro Bank. Despite being the most prevalent scams, they are generally lower in value.  Metro Bank’s experience mirrors industry findings - purchase scams are high volume, low value and the price we all pay for the convenience and speed of electronic payment transactions.

“It is almost a perfect scenario for scammers this year as consumers experiencing cost of living challenges will be even more invested to try and find bargain prices for Christmas gifting,” advises Metro Bank’s Head of Fraud & Investigations, Baz Thompson. “Shopping online is the norm these days and convenient for lots of consumers, but we would appeal to consumers to be extremely wary at this time of year – particularly of prices that seem too good to be true.”

Purchase Scam Red Flags:

  • Prices are too good to be true - Heavily discounted or considerably cheaper products/services compared to market average.
  • Be very wary of products being sold via social media. Be wary of exclusive brands at bargain prices – recent social media purchase scams include Tiffany jewellery, Cath Kidston, Jo Malone, Apple and Nike goods being sold at a fraction of their usual prices.
  • Being asked to pay via bank transfer instead of using secure payment platforms such a PayPal or card purchases.
  • The website or pages that goods/services are being purchased from was created in past few days/weeks. The seller has very few feedback ratings or is new to the platform.
  • Pressure or time constraints being placed on making the sale or placing a deposit.

Consumers can help to protect themselves by:

  • Being suspicious of too good to be true prices/deals.
  • Not buying direct from social media instead plug the web address into your internet browser to check site has secure payment facilities denoted by https.
  • Doing independent research around the retailer – don’t rely on the company’s own reviews.
  • Avoiding sending payments via faster payment and use a secure payment platform such as PayPal, credit card purchase or pay on collection/delivery.
  • Trying to always use reputable merchants.
  • If in doubt do not go ahead with your purchase.