The holiday season is here, and the temptation of online shopping becomes ever more enticing. However, amongst the excitement of finding the perfect gifts, it's crucial to remain vigilant against the risks of cyber scams. Year after year, an increasing number of unsuspecting shoppers fall victim to deceptive websites, phishing links, and credit card theft. To ensure a safe and secure shopping experience, consider these 6 vital precautions:
Stay calm - Exercise caution and take time to verify
Advertisements, emails, or social media posts boasting of 'time-limited offers' or 'last few remaining at this price' often employ pressure tactics. While these phrases might capture attention, they're frequently used to bypass common sense checks. Take your time; verify website and email addresses and look for tell-tale signs of fraud before making any purchases.
Is it too good to be true? Remain sceptical of unrealistic offers
Deals that seem too good to be true often carry hidden risks. For instance, a new iPhone 15 at a remarkably low price should raise suspicion. Scrutinise advertisements thoroughly to avoid falling into contracts or scams. Be wary of fraudulent schemes, such as the recent scam involving fake 'couriers' collecting supposedly faulty phones.
You probably HAVEN’T won - Beware of Phishing attempts
Messages luring you with promises of claiming prizes or activating substantial discounts through provided links are often phishing attempts. These deceptive tactics mimic authentic websites and logos, aiming to extract personal information like credit card details and addresses. Stay vigilant and avoid falling victim to these fraudulent traps.
Be you - Keep personal and work accounts separate
Using your professional email address or login credentials for personal shopping or social media activities is risky. It not only compromises your identity but also poses a potential threat to your workplace's security. Instances of individuals jeopardising entire company infrastructures due to compromised work email addresses emphasise the importance of maintaining this separation.
The rise of AI
The NCSC has recently warned of the increasing use of AI in scam campaigns. This may take the form of ‘deepfake’ videos, or voicemails. Be aware that phishing and other attractive lures don’t only come in the form of a email or text these days. The National Cyber Security Centre reported shoppers lost over 10 million pounds to cyber criminals between November 2022 and January 2023 (NCSC).
Report it - Report suspicious activities
Should you encounter a scam or experience a near-miss, reporting it is crucial. Various resources are available for reporting suspicious emails, text messages, or misleading adverts:
National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC): Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com.
Mobile phone providers: Forward suspicious text messages to 7726 (it's free).
Advertising Standards Authority: Report scams or misleading adverts found online, including in search engines or on social media.
Google and Bing: Report scams or misleading adverts found in their search results.
If you think you’ve been a victim of an online scam or fraud, contact Action Fraud. If you think you’ve lost money or been hacked because of an online scam or fraud and you’re in England or Wales. You can:
Report online - either sign up for an account or continue as a 'guest' and follow the steps
Call - 0300 123 2040
If you’re in Scotland and you’ve lost money because of an online scam or fraud, report the crime to Police Scotland