More than one in four parents fall for purchase scams ahead of Black Friday

UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign warns parents to be wary of scams when shopping online for gifts for loved ones this Black Friday.

Over one in four parents surveyed (27 per cent) said they have been tricked into a purchase scam.

However, only a quarter of the parents in this survey (26 per cent) said they always research a seller before placing an order and just half (53 per cent) check website links to make sure they are genuine.

The UK Finance campaign Take Five to Stop Fraud is warning parents to be wary of fake deals being advertised online this Black Friday, as new research shows more than one in four (27 per cent) have been tricked by purchase scams.

A purchase scam is where a person makes a payment for goods or services that never turn up. Criminals often advertise technology products like phones or computers at low prices to attract buyers, persuading them to make bank transfers, then disappearing once the payment is made. They generally do this either through fake websites or fake ads on social media as well as auction sites.

It’s not always easy to tell when someone is lying. In fact, nearly three-quarters of parents of children aged between four and ten (74 per cent) said they told their children harmless fibs, in order to make life easier. But the sophistication of criminal purchase scams is always increasing. And with only a quarter (26 per cent) of parents in this survey always researching sellers before they buy, Take Five to Stop Fraud is urging consumers to take more care this Black Friday.

Parents can protect themselves by checking sellers more carefully when buying online. At the moment parents’ top three protective measures when buying online are: being wary of offers that seem “too good to be true” (62 per cent), reading customer reviews of sellers online (60 per cent) and checking website links to make sure they are genuine (53 per cent).

UK Finance’s recent Half-Year Fraud Report found that purchase scams are the most common kind of authorised fraud, accounting for two-thirds of all cases. The volume of purchase scam cases has grown by 43 per cent from 53,907 in the first half of 2022 to 76,946 in the first half of 2023. The amount stolen from victims in this period also rose by 31 per cent to £40.9 million. The report also found that 77 per cent of all Authorised Push Payment scams began on online platforms.

Ben Donaldson, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said:

More and more criminals are using fake ads and websites to target their victims. And particularly at this time of year, too many parents who are trying to bring joy to their children are falling victim to these ruthless crimes. The consequences go beyond financial, because the deception involved can cause real emotional and psychological damage. So, this Black Friday, when you’re searching for gifts for your children and loved ones, take extra care online. Check sellers thoroughly before buying and make sure you follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice – Stop, Challenge, Protect.

Jen Brister, British stand-up comedian, author and member of the Take Five campaign, said: 

You’d think with the amount of ‘white lies’ I say to my children, I’d be able to spot someone trying to do the same to me. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to tell when the lie is turned on you. Criminals mirror these very same tactics to commit fraud by using increasingly sophisticated tactics which make attempts to scam you very difficult to spot! This is why it’s so important to challenge any requests to share personal or financial information, and do your homework on online sellers before you make a purchase. If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.

To help people stay safe, the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign advice is to:

  • STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve been scammed and report it to Action Fraud.
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Notes to editor

  1. Read more about Take Five to Stop Fraud and how to protect yourself from Impersonation Scams here:
  2. OnePoll interviewed 2000 UK parents of 5-30-year-olds in an online survey from 12 October to 17 October 2023.
  3. Take Five to Stop Fraud is a national campaign that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.
  4. UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 300 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.