With record numbers of consumers likely to shop online over the next few days, including ever more people doing so on a mobile device rather than a computer, cyber criminals are looking to take advantage of Black Friday (Friday 25th) and Cyber Monday (Friday 28th) too - by stealing money.
Black Friday is now Britain’s biggest shopping day and cyber criminals will be greedily hacking into consumer devices – using insecure public WiFi networks, phishing emails and infected websites.
According to a report by comparethemarket.com, cyber criminals are expected to steal more than £18.5 million over the period. But with new research released by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) showing that 31% of online shoppers admit that they are more likely to take a financial risk if an online retailer offers them a bargain, this could easily be an underestimate.
So how do you avoid becoming a victim? Firstly, stay alert to the risks, and then do the following:
- Protect your accounts with different and strong complex passwords - The latest government statistics from Ipsos MORI show that only 35% of Britons are following Government’s latest advice to use strong passwords made up of three random words.
- Only use retailers you trust and be sure you know who you are dealing with. Always access the website you are planning to buy from by typing the address into your web browser. If you’re buying an item made by a major brand, you can often find a list of authorised sellers on their official website.
- Make sure the site is secure - Never buy anything from a site that does not have ‘https’ at the start of the URL. There should also be a green padlock to the left of the browser.
- Never respond to unsolicited emails or click on suspicious links - phishing emails designed to appear as though they are from trusted retailers like Apple, Tesco and Argos aim is to dupe consumers into revealing personal details. These emails may contain links which when clicked download malicious software or take users through to a spoofed website where details are requested.
- Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi - Internet hotspots offered by coffee shops, libraries and bars may be incredibly convenient but are also unsecure. Criminals are also able to set up fake hotspots. If you're shopping online use your own 3G/4G network or wait until you get home.
- Check your bank statements for any unusual activity.