Today (Monday 12th November) the National Cyber Security Centre, in partnership with City of London Police and Action Fraud has launched the next phase of the Cyber Aware campaign to mark the start of the Christmas shopping period.
The campaign comes as shoppers 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.
Scams ranged from one shopper losing more than £150 trying to purchase a mobile phone on social media to another being duped out of more than £7,000 during an attempted online campervan purchase. Meanwhile, another victim lost almost £500 when trying to buy shoes on a social media platform, and a fourth lost £145 trying to make a similar purchase.
The figures, which come from reports made to Action Fraud and analysed by NFIB, showed that shoppers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were scammed out of £15.3m between November 2021 and January 2022, and that the age group most likely to fall victim was 19 to 25-year-olds.
They also showed that average losses rose year on year. Between 1st November 2020 and 31st January 2021, the average loss per person was £549 including reports with no financial loss, while for the same period last year that figure increased to £775.
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 by following 3 simple steps:
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 if you have one when shopping online. 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.
Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should contact their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. More information is available by searching #FraudFreeXmas.