Do your homework before you click to buy to avoid scammers’ tricks
Consumers urged to be diligent this Black Friday
While Black Friday purchases are expected to increase this year, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) cautions consumers to be diligent against online fraudsters.
With the festive season fast approaching, SA has been slowly aligning itself with the rest of the world in heralding the start of the festive season shopping spree with its Black Friday shopping event, said Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of SAFPS.
Black Friday, associated with shopping for bargains, will be on November 25.
“While Black Friday has now become the common way to mark the beginning of the commercial side of the festive season, it is important to remember that fraudsters are very active at this time of the year. While there are plenty of special offers in the market, there are a lot of fraudsters who will want to take advantage of our desire to find the perfect deal.”
Black Friday in SA has gained momentum since 2018. It’s grown significantly, with an estimated R5bn spent in 2021.
Van Schalkwyk said online payments need particular attention as these can become low-hanging fruits for fraudsters, with online transactions over Black Friday having increased by 34% and that the average basket price was R1,208 last year.
This looks likely to increase this year as many consumers will want to avoid the instore rush on Black Friday, he said.
He said the SAFPS recently received notification from the Consumer Goods & Services Ombudsman (CGSO) that it had received complaints against several suppliers who accept payments with no intention of delivering the goods or services.
“Always look at a request for a deposit with some suspicion. It is a common practice with some companies. However, you should only pay a deposit once you are confident that you are dealing with a legitimate company. Sometimes, consumers still become victims of fraud even after they have carried out extensive research on the company. Consumers can escalate any complaints to the CGSO if there is no quick resolution.
“All qualifying suppliers of goods and services in SA are required to register with the CGSO and comply with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Accepting payment without delivering the goods or services is a contravention of the CPA.”
HOW TO SPOT ONLINE SCAMS
Online shopping scams have spiralled since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which forced consumers to use online platforms to shop and limit physical contact with others. Unfortunately, many people have fallen victim to e-commerce scams and it is advisable to report them to the CGSO, the National Consumer Commission, e-commerce Forum SA and the SA Banking Risk Information Centre.
● Unrealistic offer. If the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is; Check the company’s details.
● Make a query. If you come across a new e-shop you are unsure of you can always call the phone number during office hours or email your query;
● Ensure the e-shop’s payment page offers Visa/Mastercard or EFT or other payment link to a recognised SA bank;
● Do your homework. Check the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission or do a Google search on the company. Go to Hello Peter. The search sometimes comes up with useful information for example, if the company is a bricks and mortar establishment and when it was founded; Phone a friend. Use companies you or your friends and family have bought from previously;
Buy from who you know. Use e-platforms that are well known. They usually vet the e-shops they carry.