How to spot a legitimate Black Friday deal and avoid getting ripped off

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
Photo: Getty Images

Black Friday draws in shoppers on the hunt for bargains every year, with promises of the cheapest prices on electronics, clothes and more. 

However, research has shown many of the deals are too good to be true. The consumer group Which? tracked a range of popular products included in last year’s Black Friday sales and found that 95% were available cheaper or the same price from the same retailer at least once in the six months afterwards. 

The study also showed 61% of the items were cheaper or the same price at least once before Black Friday, too. 

With so many offers to choose from, it can be hard to know which are legitimate. So how can you make sure you aren’t being ripped off?

READ MORE: Five ways to keep calm before a job interview

Shop around 

When we spot what we think is a good deal, we tend to just go for it without checking the price of the item in competing shops. Before you get out your credit card, have a quick look to see if it’s cheaper elsewhere. 

A quick check elsewhere might reveal that the sale promoted by a retailer is actually the same as the non-discounted price somewhere else.  

Check the website name 

If you’re shopping online and you see a good offer, check to see if the website or retailer is legitimate. If an item is very cheap - far cheaper than elsewhere - you may end up parting with cash only to receive nothing in return.

Make sure you’re buying from a verified website that you recognise. In general, the small green padlock on a website’s URL means the site you’re on is secure. However, some criminals have found ways to get fake security certificates - so it’s worth being wary of sites you’ve not used before. 

Beware of email and social media scams 

There are a lot of Black Friday deals being advertised on social media but be aware that these may be fraudulent. The same goes for emails too. Go with your gut - if you get an email from a sender you don’t recognise offering a massive discount on a product, it’s probably dodgy.

READ MORE: Five ways to reduce your overdraft

Scammers will send an email that appears to be from a legitimate shop in an attempt to gain your trust. When you click, share or open what they’re pedaling, you may unleash viruses, trackers or other malware on your device. Spelling mistakes or numbers in an email address can be a giveaway. 

Be wary of price comparisons

Offers which show the “before” price often exaggerate the discount you are getting, making a deal look better than it actually is. 

In some cases, shops can get away with using “was” prices that haven't been used for a long time and don’t actually reflect the current market value of the item. 

If you’re happy to pay £150 for a coffee machine you’ve had your eye on for a while, go for it. Just be aware that you may not be saving as much as you think. 

Avoid purchases on public WIFI 

In-store crowds and queues from the early years of Black Friday have disappeared from the UK, with transactions now predominantly online (77%), according to PWC.

Although many of us shop on our phones, it’s important to protect yourself and avoid making purchases using public wi-fi. Hackers are able to compromise public wi-fi relatively easily and can obtain your information. 

READ MORE: How debt can affect your mental health - and how to handle it

Check the price history of items 

Working out the best time to buy something requires constant watch over ever-fluctuating online prices.  

Before buying, check the price history of the item on websites such as Pricerunner and CamelCamelCamelPrice Spy tracks prices across hundreds of retailers, including Argos and John Lewis.