Black Friday: how lawyers can help their clients avoid online shopping fraud

Black Friday: how lawyers can help their clients avoid online shopping fraud

Black Friday: how lawyers can help their clients avoid online shopping fraud

Black Friday is coming and with it a big rush to shopping sites to get the best discounts. But often, the most incautious, end up becoming the perfect targets for scams. As a lawyer you can alert your clients to the dangers.

Enquanto advogado pode alertar os seus clientes para os perigos.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an undeniable influence on the rise in illicit online activities, and the number of reports of Internet crime has skyrocketed in the last year. According to data published by the Cybercrime Bureau of the Portuguese Public Prosecutor's Office, online scams increased by 182%, with the most common fraudulent schemes being carried out through the MB WAY application.

At a time of year when shopping becomes more appealing, with the arrival of the famous Black Friday, you, as a lawyer, can alert your clients to the dangers:

  1. Avoid public wi-fi networks
    Always use secure wi-fi networks. Avoid shopping using public networks as they are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Your data when stored on your computer or cell phones may be more exposed to cyber theft.

  2. Be wary of super promotions
    A product at an all too tempting price is sometimes a lure for fraud. The impulse to buy immediately in order to take advantage of outrageous prices can be a deception and a sign of attempted fraud.

  3. Research the company's credibility
    Always confirm that the company that is selling the product is reliable. Credible companies that work with online sales are required to disclose their business data on their websites, such as contacts, tax number, share capital, etc. Try to know the company's reputation, through search engines, complaint sites or even on social networks as they can give you indications about the suitability of the company in question.

  4. Confirm the digital certification
    Check if the online store has a digital certification seal that serves to protect the data provided by the client. Remember that e-commerce website addresses should begin with "https" and not "http", since "https" inserts an extra layer of protection in the data transmission between your computer and the server.

  5. Is the text well written?
    A clear sign that the page you are shopping on is not trustworthy is when texts have flagrant spelling errors or poor sentence construction.

  6. Read the site's policy
    It is important that the online store has its own sales policy, with its own terms and conditions, and where the security measures are defined when you make a purchase, as well as the procedures for exchanges and returns.

  7. Keep all proof of purchase
    Save your proof of purchase on your computer or print it out. If possible, write down the confirmation codes and save all the emails exchanged with the store in question.

It is definitely important to be aware of these and other dangers that may arise in online shopping experience. In more serious cases you can turn to a lawyer who works with consumer law to help you claim your rights.

Article 60 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic lists the consumers' rights in terms of "defense of their quality of life, in relation to the good quality of goods and services, to their competitive and balanced price, to health protection, to safety, to the elimination of prejudice and to proper training and information".

You can also clarify doubts and get information about procedures at the Directorate-General for the Consumer or at the DECO Association.


Always remember that…

  1. The consumer can always give up the purchase: If you regret the purchase of a certain product, under European legislation, you have 14 days to request a refund.
  2. If you are the target of misleading advertising, make a complaint: If the store advertised one price and then presented another or did not provide exactly what was advertised, you have the right to be refunded for that.

  3. Study the possibility of carrying out exchanges: Even on Black Friday stores can carry out exchanges. The deadlines, however, may vary and are determined by the merchant. There are cases where the consumer can ask for product replacement and others where you can opt for a refund of the amount paid.