How to be Cyber Aware and watch out for online shopping scams in the run-up to Christmas

UK cyber security and law enforcement agencies are urging bargain hunters to beware of online shopping scams in the run-up to Christmas. It comes as new figures revealed that victims of online shopping scams lost an average of £1,000 per person in the same period last year.

Typical scams involve fraudulent sellers who tempt consumers with ‘bargain’ fashion items, vehicles and electronics such as mobile phones. These deals are often too good to be true. Bogus sales via social media platforms account for almost half of the scams reported to Action Fraud.

The Cyber Aware campaign aims to help shoppers protect themselves online with simple steps to reduce their risk of suffering similar losses during the period between ‘Black Friday’ and Christmas.

Research by Action Fraud and NFIB revealed that shoppers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were scammed out of £15.3m between November 2021 and January 2022, and that the age group most likely to fall victim was 19 to 25-year-olds. Read on to find out how to protect yourself.

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If you think you have been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Follow this practical advice to enjoy shopping online safely:

  • Protect your accounts: set up two-step verification and use strong three random words passwords to prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your shopping, bank or email accounts.

  • Choose carefully where you shop: don’t rush into making a quick purchase. Research online retailers, particularly if you haven’t bought from them before, to check they’re legitimate. Read feedback from people or organisations that you trust, such as consumer websites.

  • Pay securely: Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly affected. Also consider using a payment platform, such as PayPal, Google or Apple Pay. And whenever you pay, look for the closed padlock in the web address bar – it means your connection is secure.

Posted on Wednesday 23 November 2022

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