10 ways to avoid online scams and shop safely this Black Friday
Boost your Black Friday shopping smarts and safeguard your savings with these tips to snoop out scams
Black Friday and the run-up to Christmas are prime opportunities to save on expensive kitchen tech if you were going to buy it anyway. Frustratingly, this affords criminals the perfect opportunity to frame their scams as relevant and exploit shopping demand.
The National Cyber Security Centre - part of the UK’s intelligence agency, GCHQ - has warned that fraudsters are increasingly "likely to use AI" to make their scams more sophisticated this year, so it’s important to be armed with basic know-how on how to spot and avoid potential schemes.
Strong, unique passwords and setting up two-step authentication on your online accounts are a a great place to start as simple but effective ways of protecting your personal details. It's possible to check if your personal information has been shared online making you vulnerable to a scam on Have I been Pwned.
Plus you can sign up to receive email alerts of scams to be aware of via the Trading Standards Scams Team. But what else can you do? Here are a few tips to help boost your diligence before parting with your hard-earned cash this Black Friday.
Our expert reviews team is updating prices continuously on our tried and tested favourite appliances to bring you honest opportunities to save this deals season. Visit our kitchen appliance deals pages for up-to-date advice on new offers as they go live across everything from air fryer deals, coffee machine deals and fridge freezer deals to pizza oven deals.
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How to shop safely online
Set a budget and stick to it
Savings are only savings if you intended to buy the product anyway. Avoiding unplanned purchases will significantly reduce your chances of falling victim to a scam.
Steer clear of unfamiliar websites or retailers
We recommend buying from outlets that you trust. Search engines aren’t always able to recognise and filter out bogus websites during the online chaos of Black Friday, so if you’re buying from an unfamiliar site, it’s worth checking the legitimacy. You can search the company’s details on GOV.UK and the company should have a street name in its company address.
Bear in mind that with electronics, you’re paying for safety standards in addition to the product. It’s better and safer to pay slightly more for peace of mind from a reputable source over a dodgy deal.
Marketplace websites are ripe for unsafe or counterfeit items to list. It’s always possible for products that have already been reported to be re-listed for re-sale too. If buying appliances from marketplace websites, we recommend looking for CE/UKCA marks on your electronics which denote that the gadget is certified for use in the UK.
‘https’ vs ‘http’
Authentic web addresses will start with ‘https’. If you see a ‘http’, do not enter any personal details and close the tab.
Don’t click on suspicious emails touting big savings
It’s normal to have emails and ads about product deals and retailer sales around Black Friday but be wily. If an email looks suspicious, or you don’t recognise the sender, don’t click on the links contained in it.
If a price looks too good to be true, it probably is
If you’re looking to save on something in particular, you’ll likely know how much it normally retails for. Be suspicious of any prices that simply look too good to be true. They probably are.
Make sure your payments are secure
Secure payment methods encrypt your personal data, making it harder to intercept; a good line of defence against cyber scammers.
Online payment platforms such as PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay prevent the retailers from seeing your payment details, so are good routes to consider.
If you’re with a major credit card provider, paying with a credit card over a debit card means that most are obligated to refund you in certain circumstances. Payments with debit cards are unfortunately not covered by Section 75 but you may be able to explore your options using ChargeBack.
Don't share too much personal information
It sounds obvious, but scammers can use security question information to crack passwords and hack accounts. If you’re required to share more than normal to make a purchase, be wary.
Add an extra line of defence to your payment cards
Read product reviews
These will help you to make more informed decisions about what is really worth spending your money on in the first place.
Our reviews team have already weeded out the duds during our product tests to bring you impartial recommendations of the best value performers for every budget. We also feature secure links to buy on our site direct to trusted retailers.
Where to report scams
If you think you’ve been scammed or have recieved suspicious marketing, there are organisations to report them to. The National Cyber Security Centre (Part of GCHQ) has a service specifically for reporting suspicious emails and phishing scams. Just forward the emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Block the suspicious address after you have reported it.
If there is unrecognised activity or charges in your bank account, inform your bank immediately so that they can block anyone using it. Do this through the bank’s official website or using the official phone number. Banks will never ask you to share your personal information over text so don’t use the links or contact information you’ve received.