Looking to grab a new Sony PS5 but concerned it only appears to be in stock at online stores you’ve never heard of that don’t look entirely legit? You’re not alone.
Many people are worried that they might be accidentally buying into a sham, as scalpers are mass-ordering consoles to sell at inflated prices to panicked customers. Criminals are also taking advantage of the demand with nasty things like phishing and watering hole attacks.
For the less tech-savvy among us, you’ll want to watch out for any suspicious signs that suggest a deal might not be as reputable as they want you to think.
Here to help you avoid rewarding a scalper’s poor behaviour or fall victim to one of the internet’s many nerdowells’ scams, we’ve created this guide detailing how to stay safe when shopping for a PS5.
Where can you get scammed?
There are various ways you can be accidentally duped online, with the high demand for units giving scammers the leverage they need to get people to overpay, especially older people, who may not be as aware of the possibility of scammers.
“People need to be vigilant as scams can take place in any kind of online platform, social media or messaging apps. Empty boxes may be sold on Amazon or scammers may send messages to people and attempt to steal their private information,” security consultant at F-Secure, Laura Kankaala, told Trusted Reviews.
It’s not only sites you have to look out for, but personal direct messages from sellers claiming that they are giving away free consoles.
“Sometimes scammers may even pretend to be social media influencers or celebrities, using their publicly available pictures to lure people in. These types of scams are typically after your personal information, such as your address, phone number or in the worst-case scenario your bank account details,” explained Kankaala.
Amazon has also been investing in the protection of their customers and trying to keep people from falling for the scams that can crop up on their website. They also have an email you can contact if you believe you have been contacted by a suspicious account.
“From time to time, customers may receive emails appearing to come from Amazon, which are actually false emails, sometimes called ‘spoof emails’ or ‘phishing emails’. These can look similar to real Amazon emails but often direct the recipient to a false website where they might be asked to provide account information such as their email address and password combination,” Media Relations Manager at Amazon, Dagmar Wickham, explains to Trusted Reviews.
This means you should be wary of any unexpected emails or direct messages and remember never to send any of your personal information to anyone over the internet.
What are some of the suspicious signs?
Some of the signs that a seller might not be legitimate are hard to spot if you’re not sure what to look for.
“If you’re buying the console directly from someone, ask them to send pictures of the console – you can for example ask them to add a custom handwritten note in the picture to increase legitimacy,” F-Secure’s Kankaala goes on to say.
“It’s important not to rely only on the reviews that the user has, as in many cases those can be forged or otherwise tampered with. Scammers can also buy accounts with good reputation/feedback to eBay, Amazon or effectively any other service, to make them appear more legitimate.”
VP at McAfee, Antony Demetriades mirrored Kankaala’s concerns, warning that scammers can be very convincing with their malicious emails.
“Remember, online criminals can easily design identical emails posing as the brands you recognise in an attempt to trick you. If a great discount lands in your inbox, it’s best to check out the website directly, rather than clicking on any direct links you receive over email or text,” Demetriades advised Trusted Reviews.
McAfee reported that since lockdown 50% of consumers have increased the amount of time spent shopping online, which means that people need to be more aware of cyber criminals than ever before.
“You should also watch out for copycat deals and sites. This is another, similar tactic scammers use where they set up sites that look like they could be run by a trusted retailer or brand, but are not. These sites may advertise a special offer or a great deal but are one more way cybercriminals can potentially steal personal and financial information. Be skeptical of any links you see there –it’s best to go to the site directly and look for the deal there,” Demetriades continues.
If you’re looking on a site that doesn’t seem legitimate, search for the website through a search engine, as if it is known for being untrustworthy there will likely be pages and posts that will be able to advise you on the site’s credibility.
If you’re looking on a site like Amazon or eBay, watch out for listings with only stock images, and phrases that suggest they won’t be selling what you expect. For example, a listing using the phrase “PS5 Box”, are likely selling only a part of the PS5, in this case, the box, and in these cases, the scammers can avoid refunding you.
What you should avoid doing
“Never give out your details directly to the seller over email or messaging apps, but use the marketplace’s functionalities or services such as PayPal to do the transactions. Never use PayPal Friends and Family transaction when buying things online,” Kankaala advises.
You should also make sure you never follow any links sent directly in emails and messages if you don’t know the person sending them. You can search their name and check other sources if they claim to be from a giveaway campaign to see if it’s legitimate.
If you can, you should also try and use credit cards when purchasing things online, “Credit cards overall offer better protection against financial fraud than debit cards. You will not be liable for fraudulent purchases and the thieves won’t be able to drain your bank account if they get hold of your account number. Any abnormal use of your credit card number will be automatically flagged or not approved by your bank,” McAfee’s Demetriades goes on to say.
Finally, avoid deals that look too good to be true. The PS5 is selling for around £449, or $449 in the US, if you come across a deal that looks suspiciously low in price, it’s likely not going to be real.
If you’re still worried about trying to find a PS5, it’s likely that you will have to wait a little longer for the next restock. However, you can check out our PS5 stock article to see some legitimate deals and to keep track of when they’ll be back on the market.