Britain’s national cyber security watchdog has warned online shoppers to be wary of being defrauded by cyber hackers over the upcoming festive season.
The NCSC, part of government communications headquarters GCHQ, said that according to National Fraud Intelligence Bureau statistics, each victim of cyber-crime last year lost an average of £775 ($1,000).
It offered online shoppers six tips on making transactions more secure this Christmas, including using different and stronger passwords, updating devices, and backing up data.
“We hope the Cyber Aware campaign helps people to shop confidently online and enjoy their Christmas.”
Last year, 17,405 shoppers were scammed out of £13.5 million ($18.1 million) over the festive period, Action Fraud said, a 20 percent hike on the same period in 2018.
It cited Black Friday and Cyber Monday as fraud hotspots when, in the run-up to the big day, people are hunting for online bargains and gifts for loved ones.
“Christmas is an incredibly busy time for us all. Many shoppers get caught up in the excitement of Black Friday, so it can be easy to rush into making a quick purchase online to secure a bargain,” Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, criminals will see this as an ideal opportunity to take advantage of shoppers and will tempt them with the promise of cheap deals.”
Smith said that most of the online scams over 2019’s festive period involved “too good to be true” deals in electronics and mobile phones, and advised online shoppers to stick to the official retailers.
She also advised buying with a credit card, if possible, which affords some protection if things go wrong.
Tips included doing some research on unfamiliar websites or sellers to make sure they are legitimate, such as looking for reviews, and being wary of emails touting great deals, which may lead to fake websites or install malware on your device.