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CTSI issues warning ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is warning consumers ahead of the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events on Friday, 26 November and Monday, 29 November, respectively. 

Last year, total online retail sales in the UK soared from £89bn to a record £130.6bn, according to a United Nations report, fuelled in part by the pandemic lockdowns. Despite the end of the lockdown period, it is expected that online spending will remain high in 2021, in particular during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events, which sees major retailers slash prices on select items.

CTSI is warning the public to be conscious of scams during sales events and that sometimes a deal may not be what it’s all cracked up to be. Meanwhile, trading standards services across the country are working hard to make sure the public is protected this festive season.

CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: “It seems that the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events get bigger every year, and many bargains can be found; however, we all must remain vigilant and practice shopping safety.

“Sometimes sellers raise their prices before a sales period to make it look like a great deal is on offer during the sale. Fortunately, there are websites, such as Camel Camel Camel, which tracks the price history of products on Amazon so you can check if you’re getting a good deal.

“Most seriously, the prospect of scams rears its ugly head, and the COVID-19 pandemic saw an array of different scams target the public while misusing big shopping brands such as Amazon, along with delivery companies like Royal Mail and DPD to cloak their intent.

“The public should also be aware that some scammers clone legitimate websites in attempts to steal banking details, while other websites may sell counterfeit or unsafe goods. Contact trading standards through the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline if you have concerns about a business, product, or website. If you believe you have uncovered a scam, contact Action Fraud. 

“Trading standards services are working to keep consumer confidence high through effective protection, and the cooperation of the public maximises that protection. We must warn others and report every instance of bad business practices and scams so that enforcement authorities get a complete picture of the scale of this problem.

“Above all, take advantage of the deals, but be alert and don’t let websites pressure you into purchasing until you’ve done all the due diligence about the platform, the product, and the deal itself.”

For consumer advice, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133

To report scams, contact Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, contact Police Scotland.  The public is encouraged to join Friends Against Scams, an initiative aiming to protect and prevent people from becoming scam victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.