How to Spot a Scam: The Black Friday and Cyber Monday edition

5 minute read

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday give shoppers a chance to get a huge variety of goodies at cheap prices. However, amidst the excitement of scoring bargains, if a deal seems too good to be true then maybe it is.

Not every offer you see is always what it seems, and some might turn out to be scams.

  • Around 10% of UK adults have fallen prey to a scam in the last 12 months
  • In 2022 the number of scams increased by 14%
  • How to spot and report a scam

Ask yourself, would I be buying this if it wasn’t on sale?

What is a scam?

A scam is a trap set by criminals to give them access to things you wouldn’t want to share with them, such as your money or personal data (also known as a phishing scam) and unfortunately, ‘scammers’ never take a day off. In fact, last year the number of scams increased by 14%, with scammers taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis. 

With millions of us heading online to check out the best deals, Black Friday weekend is the perfect time for them to strike.


How do I spot a scam?

Scammers heavily promote fake shopping websites and deals in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They’ll target your emails, text and even WhatsApp… they’re everywhere, and difficult to avoid.  

You might think they’d be easy to spot, but scammers can very convincingly disguise themselves as your favourite brands, sending you ‘exclusive’ and irresistible looking offers that will leave you with nothing. In the last year, around 10% of UK adults fell victim to a scam, and the truth is, they’re getting more and more sophisticated. 

Here are some of the tricks up scammers’ sleeves:

Fake vouchers

A common scammer deal to look out for is fake vouchers. If you receive a coupon from a brand, check if the website linked in the message is a trusted source. Often you can add extensions to your browsers to warn you of dodgy sites. To be on the safe side, stick to only trusting vouchers that come directly from the retailer… and don’t enter any personal information if you’re not 100% sure!

Fake Websites

Scammers can copy the websites of brands we all know, love and trust. But there’s one thing that they can never copy word for word… and that’s the brand's website url. That doesn’t mean they won’t try and get it as close to the real thing as possible, but if “https://” is missing, or there’s typos, random letters and numbers that aren’t usually there, that’s your sign to click off that site ASAP.

Fake accounts

Scammers can even hack and take over social media accounts or run fake adverts with tempting deals that take you to a dodgy site. If you spot a good offer on social media, it’s always better to go directly to the retailer's site and find it there than to click on links from social media.

You may receive messages from a friend or family member asking you for money or to click a link. If it feels off, don’t do it! If you’re unsure, most of us have multiple social media accounts, so drop them a message on another channel to check if it was really them asking. Then, if they really were looking for a couple of pounds to get them through till payday, that’s up to you!

Fake deliveries

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, scammers know that shoppers will be impatiently awaiting deliveries of their bargain buys. And of course, they’ve got a scam for it. Beware of ‘smishing’ - a scam sent to your phone through text message. Scammers will often send texts pretending to be a delivery company, or sometimes even Royal Mail, claiming to have a parcel of yours or providing a fake tracking link. These links usually take you to a page that asks you to update your personal information. Don’t do it! If in doubt, check with the retailer for parcel tracking details to check its whereabouts.

For more tips on how to protect yourself from mobile phone scams, check out our article.

Fake orders

Even if we splurge, most of us are still aware of what we’ve bought. Around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, scammers can send fake order confirmations on email or via text message. The catch is, when you go to cancel this unknown order, you’ll be asked to enter financial and personal information… and that’s where they get you. If you receive an order confirmation you don’t remember making, contact the retailer directly.

What do I do if I’ve been scammed?

It’s happened to most of us at some point… these scammers are good at what they do. Getting scammed can be stressful, but you might be able to get your money back. If there’s a payment coming out of your bank account that you don’t recognise, contact your bank immediately. To help prevent further victims, you can report the scam. Here’s a guide on who to report it to and when.


How do I avoid overspending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Sometimes, you don’t need to fall for a scam to lose your money… responding to marketing and advertising can be just as expensive! Here’s our tips and tricks to stop you spending more than you need to this Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Set yourself a budget, and don’t go over it; no matter how good the offer might be! Make sure you’ve put some money aside for all bills and important payments first and only spend what you can afford.
  • Do you really need that air fryer? Make a list of all of the things you NEED or have wanted for at least six months. Just like creating a shopping list for the supermarket, this will help guide your purchases and reduce impulse-buying. We’re all guilty of buying something we wanted in the moment, but only ever ended up using once!
  • With limited amounts of stock at low prices, and thousands of Brits looking to buy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can lead to panic purchasing. Always review your basket before hitting the buy button. Ask yourself, would I be buying this if it wasn’t on sale?
  • Keep track of your spending. Some payments can take a few days to show up on your bank statement and give you a nasty surprise when you realise how much you really spent - we’ve all been there! Create a tracker of your purchases and make sure it counts down till you’ve reached your max budget.
  • Shop around and do your research. Just because there’s a great deal, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a better one elsewhere. Every year, you’ll often find online guides to the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, which sometimes come out before the sales have even started.

How do I protect my purchases?

So, you’ve successfully avoided Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams and have some bargains on their way to your door. Surely you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your new gadgets... but have you thought about getting contents insurance? It ensures your valuables are protected from theft, fire, flooding and sometimes even loss. Whether it’s your new laptop, TV, games console or designer clothes, we've got you covered.

For those that already have contents insurance (well done you!), you need to check your policy covers your latest purchases, and add them if it doesn’t, otherwise you might not be covered if something goes wrong. If you’re unsure, the best thing to do is get in touch with your home insurance provider. 


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