person at desk outside

Barclays warns of 22 per cent surge in Black Friday scams

08 November 2023
  • Purchase scam losses surged by 22 per cent during the Black Friday & Cyber Monday sales last year, with victims losing an average of £970.
  • Scammers take advantage of shopper behaviour, with 41 per cent of Brits feeling pressured to make a quick purchase to get the best deal.
  • Dr Peter Brooks, Chief Behavioural Scientist at Barclays, provides tips on how shoppers can stay vigilant during the Black Friday period.

8 November 2023: Barclays is issuing an urgent warning as new data from the bank reveals a 22 per cent increase in money lost to purchase scams during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales last year. Purchase scams, where people buy goods which never arrive or aren’t as advertised, resulted in shoppers losing £970 on average over last year’s Black Friday period1.

With the bank’s latest research showing that over half (55 per cent) of Brits plan to make purchases during this year’s sales, Barclays is urging shoppers to take precautions, particularly as changes in behaviour – due to increased pressure – can leave them more vulnerable to scams2.

Barclays research reveals that during Black Friday, 41 per cent of Brits feel pressure to purchase items as quickly as possible to avoid losing out on the best deals, and 42 per cent would gladly buy from unfamiliar sellers if they had particularly good prices, rather than shop on safer and more reputable sites. Additionally, 30 per cent feel the pressure to buy more items than they normally would, to make the most of the deals available2.

People are also not doing sufficient research before making purchases. Almost nine in ten (91 per cent) Brits don’t check whether the seller is registered on Companies House, and another nine in ten (87 per cent) don’t look to see if a business has a valid address. Additionally, almost half (46 per cent) will not read customer reviews1.

Dr Peter Brooks, Chief Behavioural Scientist at Barclays, says: “People act differently under pressure, and scammers will take advantage of the way shoppers behave during Black Friday sales.

“Sales are typically all about speed, and scammers will play on people’s emotions to instil a sense of time pressure or create a perceived scarcity for an item. They will also bank on people not doing the appropriate due diligence before making a purchase, and getting swept up in the rush and excitement of Black Friday.

“Never feel pressured into making a purchase, and if something doesn't feel right, take a step back and ask someone you trust – a family member, friend, or your bank – for advice.”

Don’t fall for the bait

Barclays data shows that social media is now the source of 88 per cent of all purchase scams, and scammers will reel in shoppers by advertising the most in-demand items on these platforms1. When it comes to this year’s “most wanted”, research from Barclays indicates that a quarter of Brits (25 per cent) will be looking to purchase electronics (e.g. mobile phones, or gaming consoles), 22 per cent will seek designer clothing, and 19 per cent will be on the hunt for beauty products2.

Sale or Scam? Dr Peter Brooks shares four steps for avoiding being scammed this Black Friday:

  1. Pause and take a breath – Whilst it’s easy to get caught up in the madness of Black Friday, it’s important to pause, think, and question whether the deal is too good to be true.
  2. Do your research – Next, take a couple of minutes to verify whether the seller is legitimate. Do a background search on the seller’s name, and read any reviews. You can also put the name into Companies House to confirm that it is a legitimate company with a registered address.
  3. Get a second opinion – Finally, if you are ever unsure, you should speak to someone you trust for a second opinion, whether it’s a friend, family member, or your bank. Remember – whilst sales may not last a long time, the stress of being scammed can!


Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact Ismail.Jan2@barclays.com / 07851 037905

1. Value of reported monetary losses due to purchase scams in November 2022 versus the monthly average for 2022.
2. The research was conducted by Censuswide with 2001 General consumers (Nat Rep) (16+) between 24.10.2023 - 27.10.2023. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.

About Barclays

Barclays is a British universal bank. We are diversified by business, by different types of customer and client, and geography. Our businesses include consumer banking and payments operations around the world, as well as a top-tier, full service, global corporate and investment bank, all of which are supported by our service company which provides technology, operations and functional services across the Group. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website www.barclays.com