Shop smart - How to avoid being scammed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Residents are being advised to be careful when hunting for a bargain on the biggest discount days of the year in the lead up to Christmas. The advice comes from Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards.

This shopping tradition started in the US with Black Friday falling on the day after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday (online retailers slashing their prices) hot on its heels. This year, the dates to look out for are the 23 and 26 November.

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.

Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards carries out enforcement work to protect consumers, residents and the environment, and to help promote a thriving local economy.

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 into 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”

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 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.