Bargain hunters are being urged to bolster their cyber security in the approach to the festive season after new figures revealed victims of online shopping scams lost on average £1,000 per person in the same period last year.
The Cyber Aware campaign advises simple steps for shoppers to reduce their risk of suffering similar losses during this year’s Black Friday (25 November) and pre-Christmas period.
The findings from reports made to Action Fraud and analysed by the NFIB revealed that:
- Almost half of the scams reported to Action Fraud mentioned one social media platform, showing that this is by far the most likely medium for shopping and auction fraud to take place. One victim lost £480 when trying to purchase shoes via a seemingly reputable social media account.
- Of the 19,744 reports, 20% were related to the purchase of electronics and 13% to mobile phones.
- Fraud related to the purchase of selling vehicles was the third most common (8%), with one victim losing over £7,000 to criminals while trying to purchase a campervan online.
Action Fraud and the NCSC are urging online shoppers to protect their accounts, check before they buy, and use secure payment methods in order to stay ahead of the threat from criminals this shopping season:
- Protect your accounts: set up 2-step verification and use three random words passwords to prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your shopping, bank or email accounts.
- Choose carefully where you shop: Research online retailers, particularly if you haven’t bought from them before, to check they’re legitimate. Read feedback from people or organisations that you trust, such as consumer websites.
- Pay securely: Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly affected. Also consider using a payment platform, such as PayPal, Google or Apple Pay. And whenever you pay, look for the closed padlock in the web address bar – it means your connection is secure.