Black Friday scams 2022: What to look out for and how to tell if an offer is legitimate

Christmas shoppers are being warned to remain on high alert over potential scams ahead of Black Friday on 25 November.

The number of reported purchase scams rose by 34 per cent immediately after Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, according to Barclays Bank data, with an average of £1,072 lost to scammers.

And research from the bank shows that almost nine in 10 Britons are relying on Black Friday to do some or all of their Christmas shopping this year.

Almost half of Britons are planning to do their shopping online, leaving them more vulnerable to scammers.

Stay alert: As we head towards Black Friday and the festive season, Barclays is urging people to take a moment and listen to their gut when making decisions

Barclays data shows that the proportion of scams taking place on tech platforms, including auction sites, social media and dating apps, has increased by 71 per cent since the beginning of 2021.

Currently more than three quarters of all scams take place on these platforms, compared to less than half at the beginning of 2021.

With the average Briton expected to spend over £200 on shopping during Black Friday this year, Barclays is urging shoppers to take extra care when purchasing online throughout the sales season.

Ross Martin, head of digital safety at Barclays, says: ‘Whilst Black Friday is a great way for Britons to save money ahead of the Christmas season, it is important to stay vigilant when making purchases.

‘This year more than ever, people will be looking for the best bargains, which could lead them right into the hands of scammers, who will be advertising false offers to lure victims in.

‘Just remember to ignore any pressure that is being put on you, and if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.’

The bank’s findings also revealed that many shoppers are changing their normal shopping behaviour on Black Friday.

Roughly a third feel pressured to make a purchase as quickly as possible to make sure they get the best deal.

One in five said they were more likely to take note of a ‘too good to be true’ deal, and a further 17 per cent admitted to shopping on sites they had not heard of before if they had particularly good deals or sales.

Barclays is urging buyers to follow four steps this Black Friday.

First, do your due diligence by researching and reading reviews to check whether a website and the seller is genuine.

Second, if possible, view the item in person first to make sure it exists, especially if it’s a big purchase, like a smartphone or even a car.

Third, always speak to someone you trust for a second opinion, whether it’s a friend, family member, or your bank.

Finally, many purchase scams offer huge discounts that you wouldn’t normally find at retailers you would normally trust. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Watch out for the British Airways Black Friday scam

Those looking to pick up a bargain holiday will want to be aware of one specific scam, according to the frequent flyer and loyalty points website Head for Points.

The website warns that a number of its readers have been receiving WhatsApp messages about a supposed British Airways Black Friday giveaway in their WhatsApp feeds, forwarded to them by unsuspecting friends.

Fake: An image of the scam message shared by Head for Points

Fake: An image of the scam message shared by Head for Points

BA has confirmed to Head for Points that it is indeed a scam.

The message will likely be forwarded on by one of your contacts, because the scammers are telling ‘winners’ that they need to forward the offer to 20 friends in order to validate their prize. 

Head for Points warns: ‘There are elements of this which look real, although issues with the English – ‘2’ instead of ‘two’, the clunky ‘Do you know British Airways?’ question, the weird ‘Greetings’ salutation – would be a flag to most.

‘What IS realistic is the prize. Offer 5,000 first class flights to Sydney and no one is going to believe you. Offer 5,000 economy flights to Europe over the quiet Winter period and it sounds perfectly reasonable.’

Needless to say the competition is a fake free flights promotion designed to harvest personal and financial data. 

The phishing attack is the first of what is expected to be a wave of cyberattacks on Britons looking to capitalise on the biggest sale event of the year.  

Bob Brinklow, UK country manager at cyber security firm NordVPN, said: ‘With less than two weeks to go until the day itself, the BA Golden Ticket fraud has broken cloud cover to become the first high-profile Black Friday scam of the year.

Harvesting data: The BA scam asks users to fill out an online quiz to get their information

Harvesting data: The BA scam asks users to fill out an online quiz to get their information 

‘This scam – offering the chance to win free flight tickets for completing an online quiz – is a prime example of how criminal gangs will be trying to exploit the cost-of-living crisis by dangling irresistible offers in front of hard-up Britons.

‘It also trades on users’ familiarity, not only with BA as a brand, but also with the pop-up quizzes that have become a feature of many web pages, particularly news websites. 

‘As a result, people surfing the web may not think twice before clicking on the attached link and then including some personal — and valuable — details as part of their ‘competition entry.’

‘Consumers can expect to encounter a steady stream of these Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams in the next couple of weeks. 

‘It’s important to treat any pop-up deal or offer with caution and avoid clicking on any links unless you know the address they’re taking you to is verified.

‘If you find yourself on an unfamiliar web page, don’t fill in any personal details unless you know that you’re dealing with a secure site.

‘Remember, even around Black Friday, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.’