Online Shoppers Urged to Watch Out for Black Friday Fraud

Supply chain issues aren’t the only things that can ruin shopping plans this year as FICO reports online shopping scams surged by 65% over the year, with more than £69 million lost   London, 24 November 2021 – This year’s Black Friday sales shopping is likely to be impacted by supply chain issues, shipping delays […]

Supply chain issues aren’t the only things that can ruin shopping plans this year as FICO reports online shopping scams surged by 65% over the year, with more than £69 million lost


London, 24 November 2021 – This year’s Black Friday sales shopping is likely to be impacted by supply chain issues, shipping delays and lingering fears of entering crowded shopping centres and high streets, all of which will inject a heightened level of stress and panic buying into the e-commerce bonanza. According to fraud experts FICO, it’s an environment that provides the perfect conditions for UK consumers to fall for scam deals or buy products that aren’t quite what they expected.


Growth in e-commerce has seen fraud surge

“The fraud problem has gone viral”, explained Matt Cox, Managing Director, EMEA Fraud and Compliance, FICO. “Three-quarters of retailers across the UK, US, France and Germany have seen fraud increase during the pandemic[1].  A third of global retailers say they lost 5% to 10% of revenue to fraud last[2] year.  Online fraud has become a massive issue, so it’s important to be aware of the impact on consumers as well. For instance, online shopping scams in the UK surged by 65% over the year, with more than £69 million lost.”[3]


FICO has, therefore, compiled some tips to help UK shoppers protect themselves from fraud and identity theft.


Tip #1: Revisit Your Password Habits

So many of us write our passwords down in a diary or an online doc or worse, use the same three passwords for almost every online account. There is a better way to safeguard accounts during the holiday season; your new habit should be to use a password manager.

These effective and simple services store passwords in the cloud so that you can use them anywhere. They work using high levels of security and you only need to remember a single master password coupled with your phone’s biometics or a One-Time-Passcode (OTP) to access all your data.


Importantly, these services help you create unique passwords for each account that are both complex and long. This is important, as when hackers try to use brute-force computing power to input thousands of random passwords, it’s the length and strength of a password combined that becomes the most effective deterrent.


Remember to use a unique password for each of your accounts, particularly important ones, and not just your bank, but PayPal, Gmail and Amazon too!


Tip #2: Think Before You Click

It’s the giving season — during a pandemic — which multiplies the opportunities for fraudsters to try to scam you. Check twice before clicking on an SMS or email to confirm it is genuine. Look at the design, copy, spelling and of course the intended URL link to see if it’s genuine. Better still, navigate to the intended site yourself, without clicking on the link, to be sure you’re reaching the genuine landing page.


In 2021 there has been a huge increase in parcel delivery scams, with more than 60% of Britons receiving at least one fake text in the past year.[4]   These messages often include a “tracking link” that you are urged to click in order to update your delivery or payment preferences. You might also get a voicemail message with a call-back number, or a “missed delivery” tag on your door with a number to call.


It’s very easy for criminals to create lookalike websites of postal or parcel delivery companies that siphon off credit card and personal information, which can then be quickly used to run up fraudulent transactions. 


Tip #3: Don’t Act In Haste

We all know someone in our social circle who has bought a pet to help with the isolation of lockdown or as the perfect family antidote to a tough year.


Unfortunately, rushing to get a new pet in the unusual circumstances of COVID-19 makes it harder to be sure what’s real or a scam. Fraudsters will scrape the photos and details from genuine dog breeders and set up copycat websites or social media accounts to scam people.

The scammer will usually ask for up-front payments via money transfer to pay for the pet and transport it to you. Then once you have paid, they will find new ways to ask for more money like using the COVID-19 pandemic to claim higher transportation costs or additional fees for temperature-controlled travel boxes or various medical treatments.


Australians have lost $2.5M in pet scams so far this year[5], so, it’s important to do your research on sellers. Google the person’s name and web copy, check for customer reviews, do a reverse image search to see if you find a duplicate site. Insist on meeting up in person, and if you are in doubt seek advice from a vet, local pet shop or breeders association.


Tip #4: Be Sceptical of Amazing Deals

Whether you think you have found the last ‘must have’ toy of the season, been offered a lucrative stock or cryptocurrency tip or been fortunate enough to find a fantastic holiday deal, you need to stop and ask yourself, “Is this too good to be true?”


Everyone likes to think they might have got lucky, but it pays to pause and check in with your inner sceptic. Scarcity is a persuasion tactic that is used by legitimate retailers but also by scammers. Remember that scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. Be particularly cautious this Christmas when trying to buy something that has high demand but not enough supply, like the PlayStation 5 or Nintendo Switch OLED.


Stick to legitimate retailers, be wary of new retailers advertising to you in your social feed. Google the name of the company plus the word “complaint” to see what consumers have said about it. And use your credit card or an online payment service like PayPal when shopping online. That’s because they tend to have certain protections from fraud that debit cards and peer-to-peer payment methods don’t offer.


Tip #5: Communicate Directly with Your Bank

Bank scams are a common way for criminals to gain access to people’s personal and financial information. In the first half of this year, criminals stole a total of £753.9 million through fraud, an increase in over a quarter (30%) compared to the first half in 2020[6].  The advanced security systems used by banks prevented a further £736 million from being taken[7].  Phishing scams are popular because of the accessibility of reaching large numbers of people through email and text messages.


If you receive a fraud alert from your bank by SMS don’t click on any links, even if the message mentions suspicious activity on a personal account. Log directly into the mobile app or site for your bank or card to make sure it’s real. Ensure any communication with your bank or credit card company is direct.


Want to see what banks are doing to keep you safe? Check out this blog post on Out of Sight: How Banks Protect Consumers from Credit Card Fraud.


For link to Black Friday Fraud Tips PDF, click here


For further comment contact:


Parm Heer Mobile:07810 004393

Matthew Enderby Mobile: 07788 257107

Wendy Harrison Mobile: 07850 372469 or email


About FICO

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