Black Friday shoppers warned to be vigilant as online scams are on the rise
So, before starting your shopping spree, it is important to be aware of certain red flags that could indicate that fraudulent activity is just one click away.
With many Black Friday deals already on offer, Nick Drewe, founder of online discounts platform, WeThrift highlights the most common scams shoppers need to look out for to avoid being a victim of fraud.
Order confirmation scams
These emails will claim that an order has been confirmed, but won't actually tell you what the order is. Instead, you'll be encouraged to click on a link to find out. If you do, you will then be directed to a page that looks just like the retailer's site, but it'll be fraudsters who will receive your personal information if you have inputted it anywhere.
A fake invoice from a scammer, claims that your payment hasn't been received. It will then ask you to re-enter your bank details or a request from someone on PayPal asking for payment. If you receive one of these invoices unexpectedly, regardless of whether you think you have tried to purchase, make sure you read through the information carefully and compare it against your most recent bank statement.
Billing error scam
Often, scammers will email shoppers saying their billing information is incorrect, and that they need to change them immediately, or they will lose out on an order. Usually, when there is a sense of urgency, that's when you should be suspicious, as they hope to draw you into entering your bank details into a fake website that they've made to look like the real deal.
If you are unsure at all about whether an order has gone through, contact the retailer directly with any order confirmation or information so they can give you legitimate information on your account.
Receiving instant messages
You may receive a suspicious looking message with a link to a well-known website, urging you to click to secure a great deal.
However the link will most likely be fake, and clicking on it will unleash an intrusion of malware on your device, making your personal information vulnerable.
Scammers will replicate the retailer website’s URLs and layouts URLs, and as time has gone on, they have become extremely good at it- making it hard to spot whether it is fraudulent or not.
Once they have encouraged people to click, they will then send phishing messages and keylogging malware straight to the target's device.
Phishing emails trick users into disclosing confidential information. Therefore, it is important to not click on any links or pop-ups from sources that you are not familiar with. The same thing goes for websites. From dodgy URLs (ones with no ‘https.’ or locked padlock symbol on the bar) to poor website design.
Fake product reviews
Fake Amazon reviews have particularly skyrocketed this year. These reviews usually feature unusual turns of phrases and are over-packed with technical jargon.
However, humans are the ones promoting these, often for payment from the product manufacturer in return.
What to do if you have been scammed?
Contact your bank – This should be the first thing you do, especially if money has already been taken from your account. Immediately, replace your cards and change your security details. If you have been scammed, your bank is obligated by law to refund you.
Contact Action Fraud – You can contact them on 0300 123 2040 to report a scam or visit the ActionFraud website.
Contact the police on 101 – If you are currently being subjected to a live and ongoing cyber attack then contact us the police on 101- the earlier the better.
People have also been warned about a scam energy rebate email purporting to be from Ofgem, the independent energy regulator.
Action Fraud said there has been a sharp rise in reports relating to fake emails claiming that the recipient is due a rebate payment as part of a government scheme and provides links for the recipient to follow in order to apply for the rebate.
The links in the emails lead to malicious websites designed to steal personal and financial information.
All the emails display the email subject header “Claim your bill rebate now”.
Offenders are using the Ofgem brand logo and colours to make the emails look as authentic as possible. However, the emails ask recipients to “apply for an energy bill rebate before September 2020”, which is what prompted many recipients to realise the emails weren’t genuine.
An Ofgem spokesperson said: “We take these attempts to exploit consumers very seriously and work with the National Cyber Security Centre to prevent these malicious attacks. If people are unsure if something is a scam they should pause, check and don’t let callers push you into anything.
“Genuine organisations won’t mind you calling back - only scammers apply pressure and insist you hand over details immediately. If you have any doubts about a message, consumers should contact the organisation directly and not use the numbers or address in the message – use the details from their official website.”
For more information and advice about financial fraud and scams and how to protect yourself, visit the West Yorkshire Police website.