Cifas is warning of a surge in identity fraud as cases filed to the National Fraud Database increased by 11% in the first six months of 2021, in a pattern similar to the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Action Fraud reported that during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020, almost £2.5 million was lost to criminals – an average loss of almost £550 per victim.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t end there. A survey showed that we are most vulnerable when we hunt for a bargain online. Almost 19% of those surveyed admitted that they would click on a link in an email to get a good deal. A further 24% agreed that the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) made them likely to take a chance when shopping online.
It’s not all doom and gloom, as we have some tips to help keep your money and information safe this festive season.
1. Watch out for scams & use common sense
If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Don't feel pressured into making a purchase for fear of missing out - it makes you more vulnerable.
2. Only shop from legitimate websites
Carry out your searches yourself and avoid clicking on links in emails promising great deals.
3. Keep anti-virus software up-to-date on all devices
Make sure that you download any updates as soon as they become available.
4. Don't use public WiFi when shopping online
Public WiFi is not secure and can be easily mimicked or hacked. You should be especially careful to avoid accessing sensitive sites like your bank.
5. Don't respond to unsolicited messages
That includes texts, tweets, phone calls or emails. Be particularly careful with links in messages, as they may not be as authentic or genuine as they sound.
6. Use strong passwords
For all your accounts, particularly when shopping online. Don't use the same password across multiple sites and never share your passwords.
7. Check that URLs match retailer's genuine domain
And make sure there's a secure padlock sign on the payment page before you buy. Watch out for poor spelling and low-quality images as they may indicate a 'spoof' site created in a rush.
8. Opt out of saving details
If retailers ask if you'd like to save your payment details decline.
9. Use a credit card for purchases over £100
It offers you greater fraud protection.
10. Turn on alerts from your card issuer or bank
Then you will immediately be notified if any irregular spending occurs.
11. Check your social media privacy settings
Sharing too much information online makes you an easy target for identity theft.
12. Sign out of your account when you've finished
This is crucial if you're using a shared computer.
Helpful sites for more advice on fraud
Take Five is a national campaign offering straightforward, impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. This includes email deception and phone-based scams as well as online fraud – particularly where criminals impersonate trusted organisations.
Financial Fraud Action UK
Financial Fraud Action UK is responsible for leading the collective fight against financial fraud on behalf of the UK payments industry. Their membership includes banks, credit, debit and charge card issuers, and card payment acquirers in the UK.
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