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How to avoid online scams this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The best defence against a potential scammer is knowhow – keep a look out for the signs below, and always listen to your gut instinct if something doesn’t feel right.

How does the page or listing look?

“Some tell-tales signs of a scam can include spelling and grammar mistakes, or people pressuring you into making a decision such as transferring money or making a purchase,” Webb commented. “Scammers can also create fake websites, so if you see a tempting offer online be sure to check reviews and do your research to make sure it’s a genuine firm, as deals that look too good to be true often turn out to be just that.”

When looking at a firm’s reviews, always look for consistencies in negative feedback (eg, has more than one person complained about the same thing?). And always check the authenticity of good reviews. Is there a sudden influx of 5-star reviews, all written in a suspiciously similar way? Fake reviews can be a reliable sign that your vendor has something to hide – this goes for listings on accredited sites like Amazon and eBay, too.

Keep an eye on the administrative side of the website as well. Does it have a convincingly written section for FAQs, security and privacy? Can you easily access the vendor’s contact information? Which?’s ‘How to Spot a Scam’ guide notes that scammers often use PO boxes or premium rate ’09’ numbers to obscure your chances of tracking them down if you have an issue.

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