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OH VOW! Wedding scammers cash in on the big day

As brides and grooms-to-be prepare for the big day, unsuspecting couples are in danger of wedding scammers – the ultimate nightmare wedding present, according to new research from Barclays. The data reveals that an unlucky one in ten (11 per cent) have been forced to cancel their wedding at the last minute after realising they had fallen victim to an elaborate scam.

Unsuspecting couples have been horrified to find themselves victim to a range of different types of wedding scam – with some finding out that the dream venue they thought they had booked months in advance had no knowledge of their wedding plans, whilst others discovered money handed over for photographers, flowers, dresses and DJs had disappeared along with the criminals behind the con.

With the average wedding in the UK now costing around £30,000 many people planning their big day are searching for discounts and time saving deals – and that has provided a lucrative opportunity for scammers to exploit.

One in six (17 per cent) of those married in the last year have been victim of a wedding-related scam, the survey found. And nearly one in six (15 per cent) fell victim on their actual wedding day.

That impact of the scam can be significant for couples on what should be the happiest day of their life:

  • One in ten (11 per cent) couples ended up cancelling their wedding
  • 34 per cent admitted they had to dip into their honeymoon savings to cover the cost of the scam
  • 17 per cent said the scam ruined their wedding day
  • Over a fifth said the scam sparked a row with their partner (22 per cent)
  • Phantom photographers (20 per cent), florists (16 per cent) and non-existent wedding planners (16 per cent) were the three most common scams

It appears the stress and complexity of planning for the ‘perfect day’ could be clouding the judgement of some busy couples. One in five (21 per cent) said they would buy wedding items from discount websites and nearly one in six (16 per cent) would use social media sites. Worryingly, 18 per cent of couples would be happy to buy wedding items off the first website they visit just to save a couple of hours of research.

This is unsurprising when looking at those last-minute items*, with flowers (35 per cent), wedding cakes (30 per cent) and wedding dresses (25 per cent) being some of the most likely last-minute purchases.

Barclays own data reveals just over a half of reported purchase scams (52 per cent) result in losses between £100 – £500, whilst 14 per cent of people have been hit by between £500 and £2000.

Ross Martin, Barclays Head of Digital Safety, said: “As the peak wedding season is underway, it is easy to let our guard slip as couples rush to secure those last-minute purchases to make their day as perfect as possible. Weddings are expensive, so it is understandable couples try to save where possible, but it is important that you take your time and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, so you don’t let fraudsters ruin your big day.”

During peak wedding season, Barclays is warning couples to stay vigilant when it comes to buying last minute services and goods, and provides its top tips to beat the scammers:

Do your research

29 per cent of couples admitted they felt stressed whilst preparing for their wedding and a fifth (20 per cent) felt overwhelmed with all the purchasing decisions. Be thorough and do not let your emotions cloud your judgement.

Too good to be true

If the price looks too good to be true, the alarm bells should be ringing. Weddings are expensive events, and fraudsters will often lure people in with heavily discounted prices to draw you in. Do not play into the hands of those opportunists offering cheap deals.

Read the reviews

15 per cent of couples would be prepared to purchase an item that does not have any reviews just to save some time on wedding planning. You should always look for reviews online before making a purchase. This is even more important when booking a service such as a wedding planner. Always ask for references to avoid being caught out.

Get written confirmation

A lot of newly engaged couples will be unsure of how much everything should cost and what makes an event run smoothly, and scammers will take advantage of this lack of knowledge. Always try and obtain written confirmation for any supplier agreements, to ensure you are covered by your wedding insurance.

Never let your guard down

Do not let security measures slip as you try to bag a deal. Remember, always look out for the padlock symbol in the web address to ensure that the link between you and the website owner is secure. If this symbol is not there, do not continue to payment or enter any of your personal details.

For more details on how to stay safe, visit www.barclays.co.uk/security