A new government press release has been issued reminding the public that online sales scams continue to be a major issue. In fact, 2021 saw a record number of cyber-attacks and online scams.
Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime, has revealed that almost 100,000 people in the UK have fallen victim to online shopping fraud in the past 13 months. This has seen over £60 million being reported lost.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is encouraging people to shop online securely by following five actionable steps:
- Keeping accounts secure - strong and separate passwords should be used for the most important online accounts, including email, banking or payment accounts (such as PayPal). The NCSC recommends using three random words to create a password. Turning on two-step verification can add an extra layer of protection.
- Be aware of emails, text messages or websites that look too good to be true or suspicious - many scammers set up fake messages designed to steal financial and personal information. Members of the public can report suspicious messages to the NCSC via text to 7726 and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Choose online retailers carefully - research stores before buying to confirm they are legitimate - check via trustworthy consumer websites. Certain emails or texts regarding "too good to be true" offers may contain links to fake websites. If unsure, don’t use the link.
- Use a credit card for online payments if possible - most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund individuals in certain circumstances.
- Only provide enough details to complete a purchase - only fill in the mandatory details on a website when shopping online (often marked with an asterisk).