Five ways to enjoy the sales – without getting scammed

Bag a bargain with no bother

As you’re searching for the best deals online, here are some ways to avoid getting duped when you’re trying to get a discount.

It’s a steal, alright

Whether you’re a spender or a saver, everybody loves a sale.  And lots more of us are likely to be buying online, with internet sales making up a higher percentage of retail sales than ever before 1.

But all these quick-fire online purchases – where you can’t try before you buy – could leave you open to falling for scams. That’s because fraudsters prey on us missing the ‘little things’, like a slightly misspelled company name or being redirected to a suspicious website.

We’ve put together five ways for you to shop safely and avoid getting scammed. So you can enjoy the sales, without it costing you a whole lot more than you expect.

1. Don’t feel rushed by time-sensitive offers

It can be easy to rush into making a purchase at the best of times but it’s even harder to resist when there’s a time limit attached to offers. Retailers often use this to get you to buy quickly – but it’s also a technique used by fraudsters. By diverting your attention to the time limits, you might not notice their dodgy site or that you’re being redirected somewhere completely different.

So, ignore the timers and countdowns. Make sure you’re confident that everything’s legitimate before you hit ‘buy’.

2. Avoid anything that looks too good to be true  

We all love a bargain – but if something looks a little too good to be true (like a brand-new gadget at half the price), you should be suspicious.

Criminals can easily set up convincing sites to look like the real thing – it’s known as spoofing. They can draw you in by advertising these make-believe deals on their fake sites. So long as it’s enough to get you to enter your bank details, it’s worth their small effort to them.

That’s why you should think twice if you see deals that look a little too good and do a little research of the website itself – is it a reputable retailer? Is everything spelt correctly? Does their website name look right? If you’re at all suspicious, it’s best not to buy from them. 

Here’s more about fake websites.  

3. Be wary of email and social media promos

Sales periods give fraudsters the perfect opportunity to promote fake deals through emails and social media. They might send you an email urging you to click a link to get money off. Or they can take out ads promoting their fake deals, pointing you to their website. Clicking on these links could allow them to download malware on to your device or send you to their fake sites.

If you see anything like this, it’s best to go directly to the retailer’s own site (you can find the right one using search engines like Google or Bing) – that way, you can check the deal for yourself.

4. Think twice before signing up to free trials

There are lots of free trials advertised when big sales are on. They’re often used by retailers to encourage new customers to try their products and as a way of collecting data to reach customers in the future (they’ll be very clear if this is how your info’s being used).

Amongst the real free trials on offer, there might be a fake one lurking. It’s the ideal opportunity for fraudsters to get your personal details – your full name, email and phone number – and use it for something like identity theft. And because you think you’re getting something for free, you may not think twice about entering your info.  

So, before you register for a free trial, make sure it’s from a legitimate company first.

5. Pay a safer way

Fraudsters always find some way of slipping through the net. That’s why it’s best to be safe and pay with your credit or debit card where you can when you’re shopping online, to give yourself that added protection.

With your credit card, you’ll have legal protection if the company goes bust or you don’t get what you thought you were paying for. And when you pay with your debit card, you could be protected by a voluntary scheme called ‘chargeback’ for purchases under £100.

So be as secure as you can when you’re treating yourself to a little (or big) something special. Happy shopping.   

If you see or hear about any supposed deals coming from us which look a little too good to be true, report it to us using the form below so we can look into it.

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