The busiest week in retail is behind us, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday attracting bargain hunters - and scammers - galore! But with many deals still being advertised - and with the pre-Christmas online scramble ahead - don’t rest on your laurels: scams are still out there in their droves!
We want you to stay safe when you're shopping online, because the stats tell us that at this time of the year, people lose money to scammers. It's as simple and as bleak as that! Let’s look at the evidence from last year...
Consumers in the UK spent a total of £9.42 billion throughout the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend of 2021, with 61.49% of purchases being made online, and globally, sales were over £1 trillion.
Action Fraud released findings last week that the average loss to victims of online shopping scams for the same period last year was £1,000.
Further statistics identified that criminals were successful in scamming £15.3m from shoppers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland between November 2021 and January 2022 with the most likely victim being 19 to 25 years of age.
Fraudsters using parcel delivery messages as a lure is a trend likely to continue. DHL has been in the top three phishing lures since the start of 2021, especially with the increase in parcel deliveries in the run up to Christmas.
A factor likely to be drawn upon by threat actors is the Royal Mail strikes planned for several key dates in the final two months of the year, this is likely to be leveraged as lures for unsuspecting victims.
Another trend seen during this period in previous years is fake websites imitating brands and offering popular products, particularly toys and games. The domains are often registered in countries outside of Europe, but with UK company details displayed on the website and contact details to add to the appearance of a legitimate business.
As Christmas approaches, the advice is:
Check before you buy: 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. Also be mindful of typosquatting!
Only connect to secure Wi-Fi when in public and if possible, utilise a VPN
Take a moment to review the details, is it too good to be true? Is it genuine?
Consider if providing personal details to open an account is necessary
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.
Be wary of “celebrity” endorsements on products or services
A look at the latest scams
Scammers will use various methods to make you fall for their villainous ways. They will use emotion, the cost-of-living crisis and the festive season to name just a few examples of how they will try to lure you in.
We have compiled a round-up of the latest scams. Have a fraud free Christmas!
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).