The Northern Ireland Cyber Security Centre and the National Cyber Security Centre are urging individuals to protect their personal accounts, check before they buy, and use secure payment methods to stay ahead of the threat from criminals this shopping season.
There were nearly 20,000 online Christmas shopping fraud reports between November 2021 and January 2022, with the average financial loss as £1000 per victim. This year, the threat of this is made even more acute by cost--of-living pressures.
This is why we are working with the NCSC to advise individuals and help reduce their risk of suffering similar losses during this year’s Black Friday (25 November) and pre-Christmas period.
Protect your accounts:
- Use three random words passwords and set up 2-step verification for your email to prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your shopping, bank or email accounts.
Check before you buy:
- 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.
- 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.
Report suspicious activity:
- Forward texts to 7726
- Forward suspicious emails to (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Report websites via the NCSC at https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/section/about-this-website/report-scam-website
- If you think you've been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040
More information on the NCSC’s Cyber Aware campaign and online shopping safety can be found on the NCSC website.