Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards are advising shoppers to be careful when shopping on the biggest days of the year for bargain hunters in the run up to Christmas.
The shopping tradition started in the US with Black Friday falling on the day after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday (online retailers slashing their prices) hot in its heels. This year, the dates to look out for are November 24 and 27.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a prime time for impressive online shops to appear, claiming to be UK based and selling products directly to consumers at hugely discounted prices.
However, websites such as these can be run by scammers based outside the UK.
Goods supplied can be counterfeit and shoddy imitations of the genuine product. In some cases, the online scammer will take money and not send anything to the buyer.
Jody Kerman, operations manager of Trading Standards at Oxfordshire County Council said: “Scam websites deliberately use attractive looking deals and time limited offers to rush consumers in to making a decision, trying to take away the time for doing your own research.
“Our overall advice is to trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to be true it probably is! Some simple online research, using web forums and trusted review sites, can often give you more information to help your decision making”.
Online shoppers in the UK spend more per household than consumers in any other country (£4,611 a year) according to the UK Cards Association (trade association for 300 providers of finance, banking and payments-related services), leaving them exposed to online scams.
Cyber scams include bogus retail sites, dodgy gift cards, fake apps and other schemes designed to get hold of your money, credit card details and data.
Tips for Shopping online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
• Research the website: look at online forums. Fake sites can be pushed high up on a search list
• Just because the website address ends in co.uk does not mean it is based in the UK
• Check the website is secure: look for a padlock at the bottom right of the browser window
• Be wary if asked to send a payment by any money transfer system
• Use a credit card. You may be able to make a claim with your credit card company for non-delivery of goods or fraud
• Be suspicious of deeply discounted prices. If it sounds too good to be true...then it probably is!
If you have any concerns about a suspicious website, or if you require free, impartial and practical advice on a consumer matter, please call 03454 04 05 06
For more advice about staying safe online, visit Action Fraud’s website