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Caithness residents warned over Black Friday scams

By David G Scott

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Caithness shoppers have been urged to be on their guard against scams as Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach.

Advice Direct Scotland (ADS), which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, has encouraged consumers to stay safe while shopping online and remain cautious of fake deals.

The charity said fraudsters are increasingly using new tactics to target struggling Scots seeking bargains amid the cost-of-living crisis. Most retailers are already running a series of offers, with many consumers planning to shop online over the coming weekend.

Scammers don't always target older vulnerable people. Picture: AdobeStock
Scammers don't always target older vulnerable people. Picture: AdobeStock

Scammers exploit shoppers’ vulnerability and distraction, especially during timed Black Friday sales, using urgency to pressure victims into parting with money, bank details or personal information. Consumers are urged to stay cautious of fake deals presented through phishing emails, texts, and social media adverts.

Another tactic involves bogus websites impersonating legitimate ones, accepting payment but failing to deliver goods.

Criminals also employ methods such as selling counterfeit and empty gift cards and creating fake order confirmation pages.

ADS has issued key tips for online shoppers, including:

  • Research the online retailer before buying. Ensure that it is legitimate, with a secure website, a valid UK address, returns policy, and terms and conditions.
  • Use a credit card if possible. It may be easier to get your money back if something goes wrong. If you don’t have a credit card, online services like PayPal can protect your bank details.
  • Check the returns policy. Retailers have different policies on returning unwanted goods, but you have the right to return most goods purchased online within 14 days on receipt of delivery, for a full refund.
  • Be savvy. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Scots have also been encouraged to avoid impulse buying and check they are getting value for money by comparing prices of items available elsewhere.

Free, impartial and practical advice is available to anyone in Scotland through ADS’s consumeradvice.scot service.

Consumers can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 164 6000; and online, web chat and email at www.consumeradvice.scot.

The simple ScamWatch Quick Reporting Tool is available to report suspected scams and suspicious activity at www.scamwatch.scot.

Paul Hansen, consumer lead for ADS, said: “With the cost-of-living crisis having a worrying impact on households across Scotland, it’s understandable that people will be looking for Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains.

“However, fraudsters are always on the lookout for opportunities to deceive, especially taking advantage of shoppers feeling rushed to secure Christmas gifts, making them vulnerable to dodgy traders and online scammers. It’s crucial for shoppers to check who they are buying from and ensure that their purchases are safe, providing value for money.

“Be savvy, slow down, and do your research. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Realising that you may have been the victim of a fraud can be extremely upsetting and worrying, but remember there is no shame in being scammed.

“The most effective way to stop scammers in their tracks is to report a scam to scamwatch.scot when you see one.

“Consumers who are concerned or need help should contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial, and practical advice on 0808 164 6000 or www.consumeradvice.scot.”

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