On Friday, scammers descended on WhatsApp users, attempting to pilfer personal information under the guise of a competition survey. Well, now Cyber Monday deal hunters are being warned to be wary of fraudsters looking to steal account information or flog counterfeit goods during the post-Black Friday sales. With online retailers now extending the two shopping holidays into a full two-week bonanza, you'll need to be careful online. 

Risk of counterfeit goods

Last year, scammers targeted the parents of children looking to get their hands on one of the latest toys, the 'Fingerling', interactive animals that sit on your finger. With an explosion in popularity before Christmas 2017, stock waned and parents struggled to get the gifts their kids wanted. Cue the suspicious websites promising additional stock, which turned out to counterfeit goods that didn't move or fell apart promptly. Or worse still, websites that took payments for items that were never sent and received. 

'Fingerlings' are among the most-wanted toys by children again this Christmas, but the City of London Police have warned shoppers to be wary of more than just these cute little toy animals. The southern police force have also reportedly advised on other items that are high-value, popular targets for scammers looking to flog dud items. Supposedly Ugg Boots and Apple iPhones are among the common items that fraudsters will use to gather payments for items that are fake, defective, or will never be sent out. 

The popular 'Fingerlings' toys, which were targeted by scammers in 2017

"Unfortunately, at what is an expensive time of year for many, the internet has provided fraudsters with a platform to lure people in with the promise of cheap deals. To stop fraudsters in their tracks, be cautious of where and from whom you're buying, especially if it is technology at a reduced price." 

Tips on avoiding the fraudsters

The last thing you need at Christmas is to pay for something that never turns up, or to purchase a counterfeit item that doesn't work in the way that it should. You can avoid paying for dodgy goods by carefully choosing from where you purchase your Christmas bargains. Here's some general advice for staying safe this week: 

  • If you want to buy a product, use a reputable website that you're familiar with, such as Amazon, Argos, eBay, or one of the major supermarket retailers
  • If in doubt of a website's authenticity, search for it on popular customer feedback website TrustPilot, or perform a Google search for the website to see what other people have said about it
  • Try to avoid saving your financial account or card details in your web browsers when prompted, especially if you're using a public or shared computer – and try to avoid using such computers for purchases at all
  • Don't follow random links from social media to buy a product, especially if it seems too good to be true. In the past, we've seen people caught out by this when following a link from Facebook

If you need any more advice about whether a website is likely to be reputable or not, or you'd just like more security advice, then get in touch with WiseGuys on 0808 123 2020. We can also offer screen repairs and device coverage for any new smart devices you might pick up in the sales.