Black Friday scams: how to avoid them during the biggest sale of the year

Black Friday scams are, sadly, all too common. Here's how to avoid them and grab yourself a genuine bargain this year

Black Friday sign
(Image credit: Getty)

Planning to shop for bargains this Black Friday? The sales bonanza has some amazing steals every year, but, unfortunately, fraudsters also try to take advantage of the increased shopping activity around Black Friday. Some scams are fairly easy to spot, but others are quite sophisticated, so be prepared, and never part with your money if you feel something just isn't right. These are the top types of Black Friday scam to avoid. 

1. A website is requiring you to download an app

While it's quite normal for many retailers to have their own apps these days, they should always be voluntary to use. If you are being pressured to download an app rather than shop on a website, or, even more suspiciously, a website is claiming that you can only take advantage of a Black Friday deal if you purchase the product through an app, steer well clear. 

2. You don't recognise the website you're looking at

It looks a little bit like a legitimate website, and seems to have all the same photos as the official retailer, but something is a little off. Maybe you've never seen it before (odd given the high popularity of the product you want), or the name of the website is a little strange, or too generic (think: besthighstreetfashion.com, or something like that). It's almost certainly a scam, and you'll never hear from them once you've parted with your credit card details. Other telltale signs of a scam website are a non-secure connection (http rather than https), and a non-existent company address provided. 

3. The price is unrealistically low

It's true that you can expect to grab some great bargains around Black Friday, but be realistic. An appliance that originally cost £500 going for £50? That's a scam. A designer handbag going for £12.99? It's just too good to be true. Scammers are very good at disappearing off the face of the earth once you've made a purchase, so you may not even be able to return it once you've bought it. Best to resist the temptation. 

4. You are being offered a 'special' Black Friday product similar to the one you want

We caution people against buying products marketed as made especially for the Black Friday sales, particularly cheaper versions of existing products. While these 'especially for Black Friday' goods aren't necessarily fake products, they are often substandard and made purely to generate even more profit. It's easy to get confused by the tempting price, especially if the product looks very similar to the one you were originally planning to buy. Our advice: step away, and buy the original product you've had your eyes on initially. 

5. The Black Friday price is higher than the original price

This is why now is the time to start tracking prices to make sure you'll be bagging a genuine deal. You should avoid any retailer that engages in the practice of fraudulent pricing, that is putting the prices up, not down, during sales. 

What to do if you've fallen victim to a scam

If you have made a mistake and ended up with an item that's definitely fake, or with nothing at all, go directly to your credit card provider. Credit card providers are jointly responsible for purchases with goods providers, and if you can prove that you never received the goods, or they are not as described, you should be able to get your money back. This is easier to do with credit than debit cards, though, so always use your credit card for Black Friday shopping.