Be scam smart this Black Friday

November is a month full of enticing sales and discount offers. Add Christmas shopping to the mix and it is a busy period – making it the perfect environment for scammers to cast their web and prey on their potential victims.

What you can do to stay safe online:

Avoid offers that seem too good to be true

You may have signed up with your favourite online stores for newsletters and offers, it can be easy for genuine emails to get lost amongst fake ones. Watch out for misspellings, bad grammar and supposed last minute offers that convey a sense of urgency. Do not click on any links in these emails and if in doubt contact the retailer directly to check the authenticity. Also be aware of fake order confirmation emails and text messages. These are currently circulating and appear to be from a trustworthy seller but are in fact masquerading as companies such as Amazon or other well-known retailers.

Be aware of fake websites and sponsored ads

Dodgy websites can easily fool with their replica logos and clever graphics. The website address can appear genuine. They can also be linked to sponsored social media ads on sites such Facebook or Instagram. These websites promise cheap deals and can often link through to fake goods and counterfeit products.

When on a webpage, always check there is an SSL (Secure Lockets Layer). The URL should begin with a https:// and have the icon of a locked padlock as this indicates the legitimacy of a site. Click here for more on SSL.

Bogus promotions and competitions

Social media is not always your friend, and as most of us love a freebie it is easy to get taken in by fake social media accounts. Center Parks, Tesco, Emirates and Toby’s Carvery are just some companies that have been targeted by scammers masquerading as their brand to entice people to hand over their personal details using fake social media pages.

If an ad appears in your newsfeed but does not have the wording “sponsored ad’ at the top, then keep scrolling as it’s likely to be a scam. Keep an eye out for competition scams that arrive in WhatsApp asking you to fill in a survey or a friend sending you a free shopping voucher. These unsolicited messages are extremely common and contain suspicious links that should be treated with caution. Delete to be on the safe side.

Pay safely

It is a safer option to use your credit card or PayPal goods and services. These methods add an extra layer of security for shoppers should something go wrong. Credit card payments for goods £100 and over are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act and PayPal has buyer protection as part of its policy if an issue arises. For more information on shopping safely check out all of Buster’s top tips to stay safe online here. If you receive any suspicious emails you can forward them for free to report@phishing.gov.uk or if it’s a text message then forward to 7726.