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Warning over scammers targeting Black Friday and Christmas shopping

admin | October 21, 2021
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An estimated two million people in Ireland will make Black Friday purchases this year as consumers are warned to be wary of illegitimate traders in the run-up to Christmas.

Ahead of the biggest shopping season of the year, a new survey of more than 1,200 Irish adults has revealed that 54 per cent plan to take advantage of the Black Friday sales.

According to the Finder.com survey, one in five Irish adults say they will need a half-price discount for them to shop the sales this year.

It comes as the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) warned of the unique circumstances created by Brexit and Covid that illegitimate online traders could take advantage of.

Consumers are advised to be particularly cautious of traders offering popular, high-demand goods for sale.

Gráinne Griffin, director of communications with the CCPC, said at this time of year demand rises for certain products, leading to pressures on parents and families.

“This year we know that consumers have additional concerns regarding shipping and possible stock shortages,” she said.

“It’s important for everyone to be aware that these are ideal circumstances for ill-intentioned or rogue traders, online and in-store, including pop-up shops, to take advantage of consumers who are having trouble sourcing a particular product or toy.”

The CCPC has the following guidance for shoppers:

1. Always buy from reputable retailers: When shopping online, it is important to do some quick research. Consumers can check reviews and social media pages, where the business is based and if this information is not readily available, approach with caution.

If the business is based outside the EU, you may consider finding an alternative EU store to ensure you have stronger rights should an issue arise.

2. Buyer be aware: Be careful if a small unknown trader is offering a high demand or out-of-stock good. Ensure to research, look at online consumer forums and on social media for additional consumer reviews or feedback before you buy.

If a deal looks too good to be true, more often than not, it probably is.

3. Watch out for exclusively five-star reviews: It’s important to keep in mind that products and services with authentic consumer reviews are more likely to have a mix of consumer feedback across the rating scale.

4. Browse the website before you buy: Watch out for poor English, such as spelling and grammar mistakes, or language that doesn’t sound right. Just because a website has a .ie address does not mean it is an Irish registered business. Consumers can also check the website lists contact information.

You can also look for VAT Numbers or company registration numbers as this can be verified through government and EU websites and if the website doesn’t have a ‘Contact us’ page, it could well be fraudulent.

5. Pay securely: Consider using online payment services, such as PayPal or a pre-pay credit card. Pre-paid debit cards or credit cards also provide an extra layer of protection.

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Be alert to traders who offer a bank transfer facility or those who request you to pay by card over the telephone or to come into the store to pay by cash.

When paying, look out for an ‘s’ after ‘HTTP at the beginning of the URL and a padlock symbol in your browser’s taskbar which shows the website is secure.

6. Check the items as soon as they arrive: If you buy online, open the packages and check the items for any irregularities or issues as soon as they arrive.

If you are buying children’s toys online, be sure to look for the CE mark on the product which is essentially the manufacturer’s declaration that the product complies with EU safety standards.

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