With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, many of us are doing more online shopping than usual.
The Consumer Council says 40% of shoppers in Northern Ireland have been targeted by scams in the last few years as they urge shoppers to be scam aware as they hunt for bargains over the next week.
While most online shopping is with well established brands and stores, it can be easy to end up on an unfamiliar site when you are trying to get the best deal or chase down an ‘in need’ item.
The Consumer Council advise that the types of scams people are targeted with have become more complex, with emails and text messages that appear to be from authentic supplies, or payment portals that look like any other but may not be the real thing.
It’s reported that while 40% of shoppers know they have been targeted with a scam in the last three years, 54% don’t know where and how they would report such activity.
The increase in online offers around Black Friday and Cyber Monday average that people may drop their guard as they try to buy what they need before it is too late.
To help shoppers stay safe when sourcing their bargain buy, the Consumer Council has put together some top tips:
Be cautious of suspicious delivery advice cards and fake delivery messages – If you’re not expecting a delivery, double check the information on the card or message. And don’t just dial the number on the card – they can be premium rate – so check the company website in the first example.
Never give away personal details or payment information to an unsolicited text or email – If you are unsure if an email or text is genuine, contact the parcel delivery company directly using the number from their website to confirm.
Avoid buying counterfeit goods – When shopping online, be careful of goods that are being sold at low or tempting prices. Just remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, then often it is.
Make sure to buy from a reputable retailer – If you are buying from a company you have never used before, research them first by checking for reviews or feedback from past customers.
Stay obtain when making payments online – Always look for a padlock symbol in the browser bar and make sure the web address has an ‘s’ after ‘http’. The ‘s’ stands for obtain. These do not guarantee that a website is safe to use but can help to clarify any that cannot be trusted.
Be careful when clicking links on social media or in emails – When you click a website link that then asks you to go into personal information or payment details, it is better to kind in the website address yourself. This is because links may direct you to a fake, but realistic looking, website.
Michael Legg, Head of Postal sets at the Consumer Council additional: “The simplicity and convenience of shopping online has made it a central part of our everyday lives, but the popularity of it has made it a meaningful target for scammers and criminals. It is very worrying that 40% of people in NI have been targeted with a scam, some of which may be preventable if people know the signs to look out for and are always on their guard. At the Consumer Council we want to proportion helpful and up to date information to help people in NI become more scam aware.
“Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring a huge increase in shopping, with many retailers offering great deals and bargains. It is at times like these where we cannot drop our guard, in fact we should be more vigilant about what we are clicking, who we are giving payment details to and what packages we are expecting to arrive on the doorstep.”
Anyone who has been a victim of a scam should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
If money has been taken from your bank account you should contact your bank closest; and if you are in immediate danger the first point of contact should always be the PSNI.”
The Consumer Council provides a variety of sustain and information about staying safe from scams online at consumercouncil.org.uk/scams. sustain and information is also obtainable on FREEPHONE 0800 121 6022 or by emailing [email protected] .
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