Say NO to Black Friday scams – here's how to bag a bargain the safe way

Don't fall in the trap of a Black Friday scam this year and shop safely. Here's how...

Black Friday sign
(Image credit: Getty)

Already getting ready to shop the Black Friday 2020 bargains? Whether you've recently laminated your list of what you want or you're going in blind, it's a smart idea to shop safely. No matter if you are spending $15 or £1,500. To do this, we've compiled a (small) checklist to bear in mind when shopping, no matter if you are in the US or the UK. And, might we remind you that it's always best to buy online using a credit card – doing this means you can claim money back, should you not receive the item you paid for.

This year's Black Friday event falls on the 27th November and it's set to be a big one. We're assuming that the majority of deals – if not all of them – will be taking place online in order to aid social distancing in shops and prevent large crowds. So, really, there's no better time to get up to scratch with the dos and don'ts when it comes to shopping online. That and we reckon this event will be bigger than ever before. Tonnes of shops have a huge backlog of stock after shutting their doors for months in lockdown, meaning they'll need to get rid of items fast. And for a cheap price, too! We can't wait.

What to do if you have fallen victim to a Black Friday scam? You'll want to contact your credit card provider straight away and let them know. As long as you can prove you never received what you purchased or you have received something that's not as described, you should be able to get your money back. You cannot do this by debit card, however, since credit card providers are jointly responsible for purchases with goods providers.

Othwerise, in order to ensure you are buying something geniune, you could just shop through us. We're here all day finding the very best deals on the web for you, anyway! Keep scrolling for five dos and don'ts when it comes to bagging a Black Friday sale bargain. 

1. If a website is requiring you to download an app, don't do it

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. Brands would never do this as it limits their customers since not everyone owns a smartphone still. Black Friday sales will always be easily accessible and will never require passwords or app downloads.

2. If  the website you're looking at looks a bit strange, leave it

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:, 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. Also, be sure to check the website's hyperlink for typos or doubled letters – sometimes fake websites slither their way into Google's front page!

3. If the price is unrealistically low then it's fake

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. Check around other sites and see what price they are selling the same item for. If it's similar, then you're good to go. Nowhere near? It's fake.

4. Don't buy through advertisements during sales

If you have been eyeing up what you want now, ready for Black Friday 2020, then your computer will know what you are after thanks to a little thing called cookies. Your device, whether it be a smartphone, laptop or desktop, will then start to target ads – when you are scrolling on Facebook, watching YouTube – for these products. You'll need to be careful as sometimes these ads can be fraudulent. It's always the smartest idea to either click through to the retailer from a well-known website – like ours, TechRadar, LivingEtc – or open a new browser and search for it yourself. That way you can be certain that you have landed on the right URL.

5. If the Black Friday price is higher than the original price, walk away (from your computer)

It has happened before and it will happen again – some retailers (and we are not naming any names here!) tend to INCREASE their prices on Black Friday instead of decreasing them. How do they get away with it? They increase the RRP price, too. Just to make it look like it's on sale when really, it's not. 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. 

How to guarantee you are buying something genuine?

As simple as it sounds, anything we recommend will not be a fake product. If you are a first-timer when it comes to shopping online or are worried that you may come across a fraudulent website without noticing, then leave the shopping to us.

Bookmark our dedicated deals page and head back come Black Friday 2020 – the deals usually start to flow in around a week before, actually. This way you can sleep soundly knowing that you are buying something real, recommended by us. And, chances are we've probably tested it ourselves, too!

Otherwise, if you are wondering what you should have your eye on this Black Friday, these were our bestsellers last year (and we fully expect some of them to sell out again this year!).

Annie Collyer
Head Ecommerce Editor

Hi! I'm Annie, and I'm the Head Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes. I've been part of the Real Homes team since 2018, when I joined as Deals Editor. Along with covering major sales events — from Black Friday to Amazon Prime Day — I review home must-haves so that you can buy with peace of mind. Mostly focusing on home fragrance and sleep, as well as a few vacuum cleaners, I've tested pretty much every item you can think of that you need in your home. I live on the outskirts of the city in a two-bed apartment with my husband and my pug, Doug. So I am always searching for compact alternatives and ways to save floor space. What about when I am not typing away? Well, you'll find me enjoying an iced coffee (no matter the season) and trying out the latest brunch spots the city has to offer, or booking my next holiday. Where else can you find my words? Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home, Gardeningetc, and Woman & Home.