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  • Black [Market] Friday and Cyber [fraud] Monday: are some deals just too good to be true?

    Originating from across the pond in the US, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were created as a marketing ploy to entice consumers into the shops after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. Over the last ten years, UK retailers have also started to capitalise on the trend.

    Retailers slash their prices online and in-store in an attempt to make us spend big. It is often one of the biggest days of the retail calendar year, and many shoppers wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday to start Christmas shopping so that they can take advantage of low prices and discount codes.

    Of course, as we all know, high street retail has continued to take a big hit this year with many retailers struggling to keep afloat as more and more of us prefer to do our shopping online.

    Anyone who has attempted to do their Christmas shopping on a rainy Saturday on Oxford Street in Central London in mid-December can sympathise, but the long term impact of choosing to shop online is that our high streets and many familiar brands will cease to survive.

    Whilst Black Friday and Cyber Monday present sales opportunities for retailers and good deals for customers, there is a third group of people that seek to profit from this retail phenomenon – fraudsters.

    As our shopping preferences shift ever more online, this presents opportunities for scammers and counterfeiters taking advantage of the consumers’ tendency to make quick purchases, keen to get the lowest price. Slashed prices can also make it harder to spot genuine product from counterfeit, and makes it more likely that customers will be duped.

    Research undertaken by Red Points suggests that millennials are particularly susceptible to online scams because of their impulsive shopping habits and tendency to shop on social media, making them more likely to fall foul of discount code scams.1

    With this in mind, what can brands do to combat increased infringement activity at this time of year?

    What can retailers do to protect the customer?

    1. Spread awareness to customers about the increased risk of fraud at this time of year – this is very important;
    2. Make sure customers can easily tell which websites and discounts are authorised so they will be more likely to shop from those websites than from fraudulent sites;
    3. Be proactive about shutting down fraudulent websites as soon as they are discovered, and make customers aware that appropriate action has been taken;
    4. Keep a close eye on social media activity and make sure any infringing posts or accounts are removed using the relevant IPR procedure;
    5. Keep an eye on domain name registrations and follow up on any that are suspicious, particularly those that contain your brand name + descriptive words such as ‘sales’, ‘discounts’ ‘discountcodes’ ‘vouchers’ etc.
    6. Have standard procedures in place to tackle online infringements quickly once you become aware of them at this time of year, including:
        1. Standard C&D letters that can be quickly adapted to deal with high volume;
        2. A ‘rights pack’ that can be easily filed as part of an IPR procedure i.e. know which rights you will rely on if you have to for each brand and ensure you have any supporting material ready (such as proof of copyright).

    The best way to protect brands online is to put in place an effective monitoring programme to help tackle this type of issue. There are lots of different ways of doing this to suit different types of brand, product and budget.

    We are very lucky to have a specialist Online Brand Enforcement team at Stobbs, who are experts in dealing with online infringement, payment fraud and counterfeit issues.

    If you have concerns around the safety of your brand online and would like to find out more about ways to monitor and enforce against online infringements, then get in touch for some expert advice.

    Our previous blog posts on this topic can be found here and here.

     

    1 Ryan Williams, Millennials Risky Shopping Habits on Black Friday, Published 16th November 2018 at www.blog.redpoints.com