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TSB issues urgent consumer warning over purchase scams ahead of busy online shopping period

7th November 2023

Ahead of the busy Christmas shopping period, TSB is warning consumers about the increased risk of purchase scams, as the bank reveals a 35 percent spike1 in cases.

Purchase fraud, when criminals trick people into paying for goods and services that don’t exist, is by far the biggest driver of scam cases across the banking sector. It accounts for over half (52%) of all cases at TSB, with 77,000 cases2 recorded by UK banks in the first six months of 2023 alone – over 400 a day.

TSB data reveals that, on average, over £500 is lost per case as consumers fall victim to scams largely driven by social media platforms.

Where does purchase fraud take place?

Scam cases originating on Facebook Marketplace account for 77 percent of all purchase scams at TSB. Instagram follows, with nine percent then Twitter (4%), Snapchat (3.5%) and eBay (2%). TSB highlights that eBay’s payment platform and customer verification has led to a miniscule fraud rate, compared to Facebook Marketplace.

TSB is advising consumers to stick to trusted outlets that allow customers to pay for items using a secure payment platform like eBay, Amazon, Vinted and Gumtree.

Top 10 scammed items

TSB can also reveal the most scammed items, which include household items, services and personal purchases. In order by volume, these are:

  % of cases Average loss
Vehicle/Parts/Hire 20% £955
Concert/Event/Sports Tickets 11% £193
Shoes/Trainers 8% £174
Appliances/Gadgets 6% £225
Clothing/Accessories 6% £203
Tradesperson/Tools/Materials 6% £1,358
Mobile Phone 5% £275
Games Console/Games/Toys 5% £144
Property/Rental/Accommodation 4% £862
Furniture/Homeware 4% £286

TSB is also urging consumers to be wary of adverts selling pets, holidays, cosmetics, jewellery and watches – as these categories all claimed a significant number of victims.

Paul Davis, TSB Director of Fraud Prevention, said:

“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.

Notes to editors

1TSB customer data compares Jan – Oct 2022 with Jan – Oct 2023 to establish an increase of 35%.

2UK Finance Fraud the Facts: Data relates to H1 2023.

Paul Davis, TSB’s Director of Fraud Prevention, offers his tips ahead of the busiest shopping period of the year:

  1. It really pays to stick to reputable shopping sites that offer consumer protections and payment platforms to directly complete your transaction
  2. 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
  3. Take your time and don’t be pressurised by a seller
  4. We all like a bargain, but question whether the offer is ‘too good to be true’
  5. Use a card to pay – as card payments have the highest level of consumer protection if anything goes wrong
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The information contained in this press release is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. ​