SHOPPERS will be looking to bag the best bargains this Black Friday – but they should be on their guard for fraudsters.
The annual sales day sees billions spent each year, with customers picking up everything from tech to health and beauty products.
But new data from TSB has revealed how scammers have swindled unwitting consumers out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds on social media and other platforms this year.
And Black Friday will be a prime opportunity for criminals to try their usual tricks.
The statistics from TSB show over 60% of all reported scams were purchase frauds – where customers are encouraged to buy fake or even non-existent goods.
Of these cases, over three quarters (76%) were carried out on Facebook and Instagram.
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The most common purchase scams involve customers buying cars, trainers, shoes and gaming consoles.
To stop you from falling for such a scam this Black Friday, The Sun spoke to Steph Sinclair, fraud expert at TSB.
She revealed the biggest red flags to look out for and how to stop you from losing potentially thousands of pounds.
She said: "While there are many legitimate deals to be had, it’s incredibly important to stay vigilant, particularly while on social media platforms – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
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1. Not reviewing dodgy-looking websites
Scammers will often use ads on Facebook or Instagram to entice customers to a separate website to buy a product.
But, if you've not used the website before and aren't convinced it's legitimate, you should review it and make sure it checks out.
You can do this by entering the website's name onto Google and double-checking the merchant is approved.
Steph said: "People need to be vigilant.
"It’s about making sure when they’re clicking on stuff be conscious where they’re being taken onto websites.
"If it’s an Amazon website, ask yourself is it actually Amazon."
“Make sure if it’s a website you’ve not used before if it can be trusted."
2. Failing to check the payments page
Legitimate websites will often offer a number of different pay options, whether that be via bank transfer or PayPal.
They might ask you to sign in via Apple or Google as well.
But Steph said if you land on a page that's only offering you one method of payment, that's usually a big warning sign.
She added: "If you’re being asked to pay via one method that’s a red flag."
3. You're being rushed into a payment
Sometimes fraudsters will try and rush the customer into completing a purchase so they don't have time to spot anything dodgy.
This is a particular issue around Black Friday, when people are looking to pick up the best bargains and might buy before thinking.
Fraudsters will often trick people by saying there's a limited amount of time left to buy a product, or a small amount of that product in stock.
To avoid falling into this trap, Steph said to type the product you're looking at into Google and see if other reputable retailers are selling it.
If you're being offered a games console at a low price but it's not available elsewhere, it's probably a scam.
Steph said: "It’s about staying vigilant.
"Take your time and do your research.
"You’re online anyway so use the tools you’ve got to hand and you’ll probably get a feeling."
4. Not using protected payment platforms
If you do fall foul of scammers there are some ways to get a refund.
Both Facebook and Instagram offer purchase protection to people who buy items through their on-site checkout system.
But any payments made through third-party sites such as PayPal or messaging services are not covered.
So if you are looking at buying something after clicking on a Facebook or Instagram ad, try using its on-site checkout system.
However, you should bear in mind the two social media platforms also do not offer protection for some types of purchase scams, including vehicles, properties and tickets.
Some banks offer fraud refund guarantees as well, like TSB.
If you do fall foul to fraud and it's not on Instagram or Facebook but eBay, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp or Gumtree, you can contact the companies to check about getting your money back.
Steph said: "Where you make a transfer yourself on the other platforms the protection isn’t there.
"But if you lose money, query it with those platforms."
5. If it's too good to be true, it probably is
You'll often get a sense of whether a product you've clicked on seems too good to be true.
Instead, employ the phrase "if it's too good to be true, it probably is" and take the time to research the website.
Steph said: "You're online anyway, so use the tools that you've got to hand and you'll probably get a feeling.
"If it feels too good to be true, it probably is."
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If you're looking for the best Black Friday deals, you can view our dedicated page here.
Plus, Sky has launched a new broadband package for £23 a month.
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