Black Friday UK: Citizens Advice issue guidance as scam and data breach figures skyrocket

Black Friday is around the corner and with coronavirus still causing economic damage, many consumers may be keen to cover their Christmas shopping in a budget friendly manner. Demand for this is also set to be off the scale, with research from Honey showing that as many as three quarters of consumers admit to spending five hours a week seeking out discount codes.

Specifically, the most commonly stolen data, which may be continued to be targeted on black Friday, includes email addresses, passwords, usernames, IP addresses and names.

On top of this, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group has issued a warning as an alarming number of people are set to fall victim to counterfeit and fake goods sold on social media platforms.

Their research showed around 25 percent of people bought a fake product on black Friday in 2019 and the number of illegal offers has increased by 171 percent since 2016.

Phi Lewis, the Chief Executive of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, issued a stern warning for consumers to remain vigilant in the build up to the big day: “As we meet these Black Friday and Cyber Monday ‘deal days’ in the run-up to the festive season the scope of fakes will continue to grow and will include more and more unsafe products, including household appliances, toiletries, perfumes, hygiene and body care items.

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“We are warning all consumers to be vigilant and check what they are buying.

“If you are buying from a social media site make sure you check the product is being sold by a reputable source.”

Dealing with these kinds of fraudulent issues may be difficult for consumers hit hard by the pandemic who may be struggling financially to afford anything at all.

Fortunately, Citizens Advice have today issued advice on how to ensure safe and savvy shopping this Black Friday, as they too have seen online shopping-related problem queries jump to almost 125,000, nearly double what was seen in 2019.

Jerry Houseago, a Consumer Expert, shared his top tips for helping consumers stay safe online, the first of which involves common problems with cold feet.

If you change your mind about a purchase

It can be easy to get swept up in the fun of online shopping and the financial costs can be forgotten in all the excitement.

Fortunately, the law is on the consumer’s side when it comes to changing one’s mind: “If you buy online, unless it’s bespoke, made to measure, or you’ve broken a digital or hygiene seal, by law you will get an automatic 14-day cooling-off period.

“This starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund.

“If you buy something in person, shops aren’t legally required to accept returns for unwanted goods. Despite this, the shop may choose to have its own returns policy. If it does, they must honour it, so it’s worth checking your receipt.”

If you’re worried your purchase is faulty or you’re worried about scams

Jerry’s next tips provided guidance on the aforementioned problems: “If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you may be entitled to a refund. You’ll have legal rights if you unwittingly bought an item that is broken or damaged, unusable, not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description.

“You’ll have to move quickly, as you only have 30 days to return something that’s faulty with the guarantee of getting your money back. Your rights don’t end after 30 days, though after this period the retailer doesn’t necessarily have to refund you, instead they have the option of repairing or replacing the faulty product.

“Be careful not to end up with a counterfeit item. Secure websites should start “https” and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar. Be wary of spelling or grammar mistakes, and companies that don’t provide an address.

“Also seek out reviews of the seller from other buyers as these can help you decide whether or not you trust the seller. If there is a lot of negative feedback from other people, it’s often a sign that something’s not right.

“If you’re worried that something you’ve seen online might be a scam, you can get help from the Citizens Advice Scams Action service.”

If there’s a problem with your Black Friday or Cyber Monday delivery

Jerry’s final tip concerned the more technical problems associated with black Friday, as he concluded: “With more people buying online, more people are experiencing delivery problems. Just under half (47 percent) of UK adults have had a parcel delivery problem since the first lockdown in March.

“If you bought something to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you.

“If the seller used a delivery company, they should chase the company to find out what’s happened to your order – it’s not your responsibility.

“Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is. Be careful in selecting safe places; if you nominate a safe place and the parcel is stolen you might have lost the right to a replacement.”

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