- TSB issues warning to consumers over online purchase scams
- Spike in cases of criminals scamming people into paying for non-existent goods
- Nearly four in five cases originate on Facebook Marketplace
A major bank has issued an urgent warning over online purchase scams ahead of the busy festive season.
TSB said it had seen a 35 per cent spike in online purchase fraud, which now accounts for over half of all scam cases.
The bank said that purchase fraud, when scammers trick people into paying for goods and services that don’t exist, is driving scam cases across the banking sector.
Banks are seeing over 400 cases a day of online purchase fraud, having recorded 77,000 cases in the first six months of 2023 alone.
TSB’s research also reveals that consumers are, on average, losing £500 per case as they fall victim to social media scams.
Facebook Marketplace is the biggest driver of online purchase fraud, accounting for 77 per cent of purchase scams originating on the platform.
Paul Davis, TSB director of fraud prevention, has warned people not to buy items via social media, unless they have a payment system with protections.
TSB has previously called on Facebook owner Meta to do more about the scams on its platform.
In May, TSB called on Meta to do more about the fraud proliferating on its platforms, including Facebook and Whatsapp.
It revealed scams taking place through Meta’s companies account for 80 per cent of fraud cases at the bank within its top three fraud categories.
This Is Money has also called on Meta to do more about the Wild West of Facebook Marketplace and Meta’s inaction.
A spokesman for Meta, responding to TSB’s latest figures, said: ‘With tens of millions of people using our apps daily in the UK, we recognise our important role in tackling the industry-wide issue of online purchase scams and have systems in place to block scams.
‘Facebook Marketplace is a local meet up and collection service so we don’t facilitate payments or shipping, but scammers exploit this by taking conversations off our platforms where we can’t enforce.
‘We encourage our community to report scams immediately so we can take action and we’ll continue equipping customers with knowledge to transact securely and avoid fraud on Marketplace.’
Purchase fraud on Instagram accounts for 9 per cent of cases, followed by Twitter (4 per cent), Snapchat (3.5 per cent) and eBay (2 per cent).
TSB advises consumers to stick to trusted outlets with a secure payment platform like eBay, Amazon, Vinted and Gumtree.
Paul Davis adds: ‘At this time of year, many of us are looking online for a bargain.
‘But it can quickly go wrong when shopping on social media sites – which are rife with scam adverts for items that simply don’t exist.
‘Over this busy shopping period, it really pays to stick to responsible shopping sites that offer payment platforms.
‘And don’t be easily caught out by a bargain you see on social media – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.’
What are the most scammed items online?
Vehicles top TSB’s list of the most scammed items, making up 20 per cent of all online purchase fraud cases with an average loss of £955.
Earlier in the year, our investigation revealed that vehicle fraud on social media had ballooned -including scammers specifically using the VW T5 vans as bait.
Others falling victim to purchase fraud include those looking for tradespeople, tools and materials, and lose out on £1,358 per case. This makes up 6 per cent of cases.
Event tickets, including concerts and sports, are a common scam and make up 11 per cent of all cases, with an average loss of £193.
It is closely followed by shoes and trainers, which account for 6 per cent of cases, and see consumers losing £225.
The sale of phones and gadgets are another common scam, constituting 5 and 6 per cent of scams respectively, with an average loss of between £225 and £275.
TSB is also urging consumers to be wary of adverts selling pets, holidays, cosmetics, jewellery and watches, after the categories claimed a ‘significant’ number of victims.
TOP TIPS TO AVOID FALLING VICTIM TO ONLINE SCAMS
Paul Davis offers his tips ahead of the busiest shopping period of the year:
- It really pays to stick to reputable shopping sitesthat offer consumer protections and payment platforms to directly complete your transaction;
- Due to the alarmingly high rate of fraud on social media platforms, TSB actively encourages you to avoid using social media sites, including Facebook Marketplace, for shopping unless you are able to meet the seller in person;
- Take your time and don’t be pressurised by a seller;
- We all like a bargain, but question whether the offer is ‘too good to be true’;
- Use a card to pay– as card payments have the highest level of consumer protection if anything goes wrong
Source: This is Money, UK (7 November 2023)