This Monday (3 December) is “Cyber Monday,” the busiest day of the year for UK online retailers who are bracing themselves for up to 115 million visits to their sites. That’s an anticipated 36% increase on Cyber Monday last year, when there were 84.6 million visits. During the first two weeks of December, consumers are forecast to spend £4.6bn online, up from £3.7bn in the same period last year [3 December 2012]
But shoppers surfing the web from the comfort of their homes or offices are being warned to look out fraudsters. Action Fraud and the City of London Police are urging online shoppers to think about security, especially when using unfamiliar websites offering deals that appear too good to be true. Christmas is a prime opportunity for fraudsters waiting to relieve customers of their hard-earned cash
By following these simple tips you can keep fraudsters at bay this Christmas:
1. Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to believe then there is usually a catch. Legitimate popular technology and designer items are rarely discounted.
2. Check the URL in the web browser. Don’t be fooled by spoof websites where the fraudsters slightly change the address.
3. Ensure the website address begins ‘https’ at the payment stage – this indicates a secure payment.
4. Don’t access links in unsolicited emails, always type in the website address or use a search engine to find a site.
5. Only deal with reputable sellers - only use sites you know or ones that have been recommended to you.
6. Avoid paying by money transfers - they aren’t secure. Use an online payment option such as PayPal, which helps to protect you.
7. Watch out for pop-ups appearing asking you to confirm your card details before you are on the payment stage. Never enter your PIN number online.
8. If your bid for an online auction item is unsuccessful, don’t be tempted to trade off-site if another seller approaches you with a similar item. This is likely to be a scam and you won’t be covered.
9. Keep security software and firewalls up-to-date. Regularly update your internet browser when a new patch is released.
10. Keep receipts and check these against your statement – if you spot a transaction you did not authorise speak to your card company immediately. If you are the innocent victim of any type of card fraud you will not suffer any financial loss.
Stephen Proffitt, Head of Action Fraud, said: “We want online shoppers to be vigilant at all times, but especially in the run-up to Christmas. More people than ever are expected to shop for their presents online and we don’t want them to be victims of fraud. In the last 12 months Action Fraud has seen a 37 per cent increase in reports of online shopping and auction fraud. Even experienced computer users should think about their safety and security online. Ensure your computer has up-to-date virus software and consider using a separate card for online shopping. Always safeguard your personal details, especially passwords and PIN numbers.”
Director of the NFIB, Detective Superintendent Dave Clark, said: "People planning for the festive period are increasingly choosing to do their Christmas shopping from the comfort of their own home. But behind the flashy websites and great deals can lie a heartless fraudster ready to take away what you had planned to give and share with friends and family.
"To stop the criminals ruining your Christmas be careful when shopping online, always checking the sites legitimacy and make sure it has a secure payment facility. It may feel like a pain at the time but it could make the difference between putting your presents under the tree and sitting there with on the big day with nothing to give.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of this type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud so that the incident can be passed on to the police.