Black Friday 2023, which takes place on Friday November 24, brings, like every year, its share of good deals to grab, but also online scams to avoid. Fancy promotions, fraudulent websites, dropshipping… Le Figaro gives you the keys to avoid being trapped.
-30%, -50% or even -70%: during Black Friday, the promotions can be more attractive than the others. But be careful, they do not always correspond to a good deal. “The reference price is sometimes inflated, so as to be able to display a surreal discount,” warns Olivier Gayraud, lawyer at the consumer association CLCV. At the time of Black Friday 2020, UFC-Que Choisir had unearthed several examples of “false promotions” on Amazon, CDiscount, or the websites of large brands such as Darty or Conforama. The solution ? Compare the price of the product on other known sites, to assess the reality of the discount.
Furthermore, if the purchased product is shipped from a country outside the EU, you should pay attention to "customs charges", which are sometimes not included in the displayed price and will be charged upon arrival of the package. Customs and the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) recommend consulting “the general conditions of sale to find out what the invoice price includes” and checking “the place of origin of your product”, the delivery times which can “give an indication of a distant origin”.
Also read: Fake promotions: why are they so common every year?
With each edition of Black Friday, “fraudulent sites are created for the occasion,” observes Olivier Gayraud. Sometimes imitating existing brands, these sites only aim to defraud Internet users. The ordered product will never arrive, or will be defective, and it will be very difficult to get a refund.
It is therefore advisable to favor sites from which you or those around you have already ordered. If the site is unknown, certain reflexes can be adopted: check the URL address of the site - which will differ, sometimes very slightly, from that of the site it is trying to imitate -, consult the reviews, type the name of the site in a search engine… “You must also try to determine where the merchant is physically located,” advises Olivier Gayraud, “by looking at the general conditions of sale (CGV) or the “Who are we” tab”.
If you think you are on a trusted site, you must still be careful when paying to ensure that the transaction is secure. To do this, you must check that the URL address begins with “https” or that the padlock logo appears next to the URL.
Although this type of scam is not specific to Black Friday, promotional periods of this nature see an increase in phishing attempts. As the official website Cybermalveillance.gouv.fr explains, this fraudulent technique is “intended to lure the Internet user into communicating personal (access accounts, passwords, etc.) and/or banking data by pretending to be a trusted third party. Emails, SMS, announcements on social networks… Phishing can take different forms. As part of Black Friday, Internet users may be asked to click on a questionable link or provide personal information to benefit from the deal of the century.
“Black Friday” is also a breeding ground for “parcel scams”, in which victims receive a message informing them of the receipt of a parcel, and intended only to steal their personal data, particularly banking data. They can in particular use the graphic codes of the customs administration. “Customs will never contact you by SMS, email or telephone to request payment of a customs duty or offer to release any goods or baggage against payment,” remind customs and the DGCCRF in a press release. Do not click on the link or follow up on these messages.”
If you receive mysterious calls or messages (SMS or emails) asking you to call a carrier number to receive a package, or after-sales service following a purchase, or to benefit from a extraordinary promotion, one should be particularly wary. These numbers may in fact be surcharged. “Prefer to call back the official number of the merchant, carrier or after-sales service concerned which you will find on its official website,” advises the Cybermalveillance.gouv.fr website.
“Only 3 items left in stock”, pre-selected choices, hidden subscription… All these messages, interfaces or misleading presentations are placed in the category of “dark patterns”. What do they have in common ? “These are manipulative internet techniques or processes which will bias your choices and lead you to order products or subscribe to services that you have not fully chosen,” explains the DGCCRF. When making your purchases, take your time and do not give in to urgency.
While the practice of “dropshipping” is not illegal, it can hide scams. As a reminder, “dropshipping” consists of a site putting on sale a product that it does not yet have in stock but that it obtains from a supplier. It “causes a significant number of consumer complaints, particularly due to non-deliveries of products and the impossibility of contacting the seller,” warn the DGCCRF and customs. These sites can also, for example, contain misleading advertising about the characteristics of the products sold.