If you’re one of those who believe the festive shopping season begins when we enter into the 1 month countdown until the big day, then know that the shopping season has started.
Sites like Amazon are currently undergoing their annual “Black Friday Deals Week” (see end of article) and this Friday is the busiest day of the shopping calendar, where bargain hunters can strike up some great deals on a whole host of products.
But with these opportunities for bargains comes just as many opportunities to be scammed. So, watch out for 5 popular scams we describe in the following 5 points over Black Friday and Christmas, and you can’t go far wrong.
Beware the Bait & Switch
One of the most common scams online at any time of the year is one of the oldest cons in the scammer instruction book. The bait-and-switch.
Did you see an advertisement for an impossibly cheap iPad? Or the latest iPhone for a mere dollar/quid? May be the advert popped up on a website you were visiting, maybe it appeared on a social media website like Facebook, or even emailed directly to your inbox.
It could be the bait to any number of scams, but more often than not, it leads to the bait-and-switch scam. This means that after getting lured by the bait and clicking through, the visitor is led to the real offer, which isn’t as good as the bait initially promised.
This usually means being led to some kind of survey taking rewards program where you have to give away all your personal information to enrol, enter into subscriptions, jump through all sorts of hoops and the chances are high that the goodie promised as the start doesn’t exist, or you’ve actually just entered into a competition for a chance to win it. Basically, the reality of the offer stinks!
Read here for more information about bait-and-switch scams, and remember, if it appears too good to be true, it probably is!
Beware the fraudulent retailers
Shopping online is all about due diligence, and so is this tip. We don’t need to tell you that the Internet is plagued with websites looking to rip off anyone foolish enough to buy from them. This could be by providing counterfeit goods or simply taking your money and running.
Again, these websites offer promotions that just look too good to be true (because they are) and they can advertise much in the same way as the above bait-and-switch scam, e.g. through adverts, spam email or social media.
When you buy online, make sure the retailer is reputable. Google them, check their public WHOIS record by typing in their web address here to check if their contact information is public and to see how long they have been operating. Remember, no feedback or reviews is not a good thing. Check if they offer payment options that will protect you, and avoid sites that ask you to wire money through services like Western Union.
Basically, never buy from a website until you are 100% sure it’s real. For the ultra-careful, stick to reputable e-commerce websites. And once again, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is (we really cannot stress that enough!)
Beware the copycat retailers
But it’s not just retailers you’ve never heard of you need to be wary of. There are also a number of scammers who set up websites designed specifically to look exactly like reputable retailers but with the intention of scamming you in very much the same way.
For this reason, even if you think you’re on a reputable website, double check the web address at the top to make sure you are on the correct domain, and for good practise, avoid clicking on untrusted links in unsolicited emails or on suspicious posts on social media that could potentially take you to any website. Go directly to the retailer – i.e. if you’re looking to go to Amazon, type in AMAZON.COM into the address bar.
Beware the Parcel undelivered scams
Scammers know that lots of people around the world are eagerly expecting parcel deliveries from all those great deals they scored online. This inevitably leads to an influx of email scams purporting to come from courier services imploring you to visit dangerous websites or opening suspicious email attachments.
So beware of emails that claim to be from companies like Fedex or UPS saying that your parcel was undelivered, and to open the attachment for instructions on how to rearrange delivery, for example. We have more information on these types of scams here.
Beware the Like-Farming Giveaway scam
Share and like this post to win an iPhone. Or an iPad. Or a car. Or a supermarket voucher. Or a free airline ticket. Or a laptop.
It’s one of Facebook’s most prevalent scams, and they increase in frequency over the festive period, especially over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday discount weeks. They lure you with the prospect of a freebie by asking you to like and share a post. This launches the post into the viral stratosphere, fooling other Facebook users. This in turn builds a massive following for the Facebook page that made the post.
From there the page can expose its followers to any number of scams. This usually means links to the same type of rewards/survey scams we often encounter with the Bait and Switch scam. But it can also mean links to malware websites or sites that try and commit identity theft.
Whilst many companies do perform legitimate promotions on Facebook, you need to check the page that made the post to discover the legitimacy of the promotion. How old is the Facebook page? If it is representing a popular brand, does it have the blue verification tick Facebook gives the official Facebook pages for popular brands? Are they continually posting “like and share to win” posts? These questions will allow you to find out the legitimacy of the page and thus the legitimacy of the supposed promotion.
We have more information on Facebook giveaway scams here.