Police and banks tell shoppers to be vigilant for Black Friday scams

Online crime during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020 defrauded UK shoppers by £2.5m

Police and banks have warned consumers to be vigilant when shopping in this week’s Black Friday sales, with a rise in scams expected to cost shoppers milions.

Police said crime over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period last year defrauded online shoppers in Britain of £2.5m.

Many never received goods they ordered from unfamiliar websites, and some were subsequently targeted by criminals using bank details given during transactions.

More than £15m was lost through fraud in the run-up to Christmas in 2020, with more than 28,000 reports of scams costing an average of more than £500. The numbers rose significantly because many bargain hunters were still avoiding high street shops, with a second lockdown imposed in the days before Christmas. Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, said that the incidence went up by 61% from 2019.

Action Fraud has advised consumers to take additional checks when shopping online, as Black Friday approaches on 26 November.

Pauline Smith, the service’s director, said people should always shop with official retailers, adding: “If you think you have found a bargain that is too good to be true, it probably is. Stop and think before making a purchase, as it could protect you and your money.”

Younger people were likely to be at risk, with just over a quarter of reports to the police coming from twentysomethings and more than half of scams involving electronic goods being purchases of games consoles such as Xbox or PlayStation.

People often fell foul of fake websites that looked identical to official vendors’ sites but were advertising goods at a much cheaper price. The fraud service particularly advised wariness if there was any pressure from a retailer to buy quickly.

Research from Barclays Bank found that many could be susceptible, with more than a third of Britons planning to shop online during the sales – and 14% of those happy to shop on unfamiliar websites for a bargain.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

During last year’s Black Friday season there was a 17% increase in reported shopping scams with victims losing an average of £538, Barclays estimated.

Many would be open to common scams, with one in eight saying they would give their pin to a caller from a bank, and 25% saying they would help if asked to participate in an “internal bank investigation”.

The bank said the online sales were a great opportunity for fraud, and scammers often targeted victims again using details gathered in the first scam.


Gwyn Topham

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Black Friday: how to avoid scams when shopping for deals
Fraudsters aim to exploit shoppers’ desire to save money, but follow these tips before splashing out

Hilary Osborne

25, Nov, 2021 @5:41 PM

Article image
Black Friday: shoppers take to their mobile in search of best deals
Little sign of the frenzied in-store scenes of a few years ago, with most sales made online

Sarah Butler

23, Nov, 2018 @6:22 PM

Article image
A cold, misty and lonely Black Friday 5am start at Tesco
The supermarket opens an hour earlier each year but punters appear sparse despite bargains aplenty

Jasper Jolly and Libby Brooks

23, Nov, 2018 @8:28 AM

Article image
Cyber Monday to take UK's weekend sales splurge over £7bn
Millions of bargain hunters are expected to go online, dealing further blow to the high street

Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent

26, Nov, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Black Friday fever: police deal with desperate shoppers
Some bargain hunts turn into trolley warfare, with police accusing Tesco executives of inadequate planning

Zoe Wood, Sarah Butler and Rupert Neate

28, Nov, 2014 @6:22 PM

Article image
Black Friday 2015: the best UK deals
Many retailers have already launched pre-Christmas online and in-store offers. Here are some of the discounts available

Julia Kollewe

26, Nov, 2015 @3:37 PM

Article image
Cyber Monday: the best UK deals in one list
Where to find the UK’s best Cyber Monday online offers, from Amazon to Tesco – including next year’s holiday

Martin Belam

27, Nov, 2017 @5:25 PM

Article image
UK retailers enjoyed 'outstanding' Black Friday sales figures
Barclaycard says transaction value was up 16.5% on last year, with Cyber Monday off to a strong start

Patrick Collinson

03, Dec, 2019 @12:11 AM

Article image
Cyber Monday builds on Black Friday online shopping spree
Shoppers spent record £1.1bn with UK online retailers on Black Friday, with analysts forecasting another £934m in sales for Cyber Monday

Graham Ruddick

30, Nov, 2015 @7:00 PM

Article image
Haunted by shame: victims of bank transfer scams tell of lasting trauma
Fraud can have devastating consequences on victims, and not only financially

Anna Tims

17, Apr, 2021 @8:00 AM