Black Friday 2019: How to stay safe when shopping the sales this week

The biggest shopping event of the year is here, and millions of British shoppers will take to the internet to grab themselves a bargain.

Black Friday is a term traditionally applied to the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. In 2019, this would be Friday, November 29.

But the term is now more widely used around the world, and Black Friday sales often stretch for two weeks or longer.

From televisions and gaming consoles to clothes and shoes, there are tens of thousands of deals to be had during the sales.

Last year, UK shoppers spent a total of £1.49 billion on the annual sales.

But the event is also targeted by fraudsters, who hope to con excited shoppers into handing over their hard-earned cash.

Last year, UK shoppers spent a total of 1.49 billion on the Black Friday sales.But the event is also targeted by fraudsters, who hope to con excited shoppers into handing over their hard-earned cash.

Last year, UK shoppers spent a total of 1.49 billion on the Black Friday sales.But the event is also targeted by fraudsters, who hope to con excited shoppers into handing over their hard-earned cash.

So how can you stay safe while shopping the sales?

Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, offers the following advice:

Choosing where you shop

If you're planning on making a purchase from a company or person you don't trust or haven't heard of, be sure to carry out some research first. Speak to a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.

Use a credit card

Action Fraud advises consumers to use a credit card if they are unsure about the seller of an item, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases. You will need to check your card's Terms and Conditions for exact details.

Keep your devices up to date

Keeping your devices, including tablets, mobile phones and computers, up to date will help to protect you, as these provide important security updates. Be sure to keep your applications up to date too. Apple, Microsoft and Google offer advice on installing these updates and most devices will let you turn on automatic updates, which will keep your device protected in the future.

Turn on two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is available on many online accounts. It provides an extra layer of security when you are claiming to log in, often by sending a verification code to your mobile number or email address.

Take care with links in emails and texts

Many fraudsters use emails and texts to send links to false websites which are designed to steal your money and personal details.

If you are unsure about an email or text, find the website yourself by searching for it online, rather than clicking the link directly.

Use a password manager

For people with lots of online accounts, the temptation to reuse usernames and passwords is strong. But this can leave your accounts vulnerable to attack if your details from another site are accessed by fraudsters.

Password managers keep track of all your login details for you, so you can choose strong passwords for your accounts without worrying about losing or forgetting them. The only password you'll need to remember is the one for the password manager itself.

Don't give out too much information

Action Fraud warn that you should not need to give out your maiden name or the name of your primary school in order to buy something. Online stores will require some basic information, such as your address and bank details, but be wary if they ask for details that are not required for your purchase.

When things go wrong

We all make mistakes, and many scams these days are incredible convincing. If you are concerned that you have been victim to a fraudulent website, Action Fraud advises that you make a note of the website's address and close your internet browser before reporting the details to Action Fraud and contacting your bank for advice.

Whether you've been a victim of fraud will depend on how much information you’ve provided to the website. So keep an eye on bank transactions, if you can. Contact your bank immediately about anything that you don’t recognise, even small amounts.

View the full list of advice or report any concerns on the Action Fraud website.