CTSI urges shoppers to be careful what they bargain for this Black Friday
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is urging shoppers seeking to save money on Black Friday bargains to be on their guard against scams, fake reviews and potentially unsafe goods.
Black Friday (25 November) and Cyber Monday (28 November) originated in the US as promotional events offering shoppers discounted goods after the Thanksgiving holiday. The tradition quickly spread to the UK, where some retailers use it as an opportunity to offer bargains in the run-up to Christmas.
However, as shoppers across the country struggle with the rising cost of living, this year there are particular concerns that many could be tempted by spurious offers and misleading claims. Disreputable traders and scammers are seizing the opportunity to exploit consumers’ desire to save money, and what may at first glance seem like a bargain could be anything but.
CTSI is urging consumers to bear the following advice in mind:
- Do your research before committing to a purchase and shop around. Don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics and always take time to reflect before clicking ‘buy’
- Do not blindly trust online reviews, many of which can be faked
- Before entering any payment information into a website, check the URL – scammers have been known to clone legitimate websites in order to steal banking details
- Use a protected payment method like a credit card, PayPal or a Klarna account – debit card payments are not protected if there is a problem with a purchase
- Be on guard against fake, poor quality and potentially dangerous goods – if the price of something seems too good to be true, it probably is
- Buy from a reputable trader whose name you recognise and check the delivery, returns and cancellation details before committing to a purchase
CTSI Lead Officer for Scams and Doorstep Crime, Katherine Hart, said: “Even if you are used to buying goods online, at this time of year – and as the cost-of-living crisis makes a bargain more tempting than ever – it is a good idea to take a little extra time to consider whether you are really getting what you pay for.
“I myself fell for an online scam last year when I bought a pair of boots via Facebook from a company with good reviews that appeared to be based in the UK. When the boots failed to arrive I contacted the company and was told they were in transit. When they still hadn’t arrived I did some more research and found that the company was actually based in China and had failed to deliver goods to other shoppers. Fortunately, I had paid for the boots via PayPal, so I got my money back.”
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “Scammers are always quick to exploit people’s vulnerabilities, and this is particularly true during the cost-of-living crisis and in the lead up to Christmas when every penny counts. What might look like a bargain could end up costing you dearly, with fraudsters looking to steal payment details, counterfeiters selling unsafe goods that could harm you or your family, and scammers promising to sell you things that never arrive.
“Whenever buying anything online, always exercise caution and make sure you think carefully before handing over any personal payment details.”
The public is encouraged to join Friends Against Scams, an initiative aiming to protect and prevent people from becoming victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.
If people in England or Wales think they have fallen foul to a scam they should call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223113 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk. Consumers in Scotland should call Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 8009060 or visit www.advice.scot, while those in Northern Ireland should contact ConsumerLine on 0300 123 6262 or visit www.nidirect.gov.uk.