MSE News

Online shoppers conned out of more than £11m last Christmas - how to protect yourself

Shoppers are being told to take extra care when buying online this Christmas after the UK's fraud reporting service warned people were conned out of millions over the festive period last year.

Action Fraud's latest report shows 15,024 shoppers were tricked by fraudsters over Christmas 2017, with total losses amounting to "more than £11 million".

Mobile phones were the most common item that people tried to buy from fraudsters - Action Fraud said iPhones accounted for 74% of all fraudulent mobile phone purchases.

Electrical goods (including games consoles), household items, computers, clothing and accessories also featured in many of the reports, with Fingerling toys, Ugg Boots and Apple MacBooks among the most common items.

Women aged between 20 and 29 were most likely to report being scammed - this demographic accounted for more than 30% of reports. 

For help dodging fraudsters when shopping online, see our 30+ Ways to Stop Scams.

Tips to avoid being scammed over Christmas

Action Fraud has given out the following guidance to shoppers to help them avoid being caught out by fraud: 

  • If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t exist.

  • Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.

  • Make sure you’ve installed the latest software and app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details.

  • Use a strong, separate password and two-factor authentication - an additional protection alongside a password - to protect your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.

  • Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text. The volume of online shopping-related phishing emails increases during the holiday period. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • If you've been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

'The internet has provided fraudsters with a platform'

Detective Chief Superintendent Pete O’Doherty of the City of London Police said: “Unfortunately, at what is an expensive time of year for many, the internet has provided fraudsters with a platform to lure people in with the promise of cheap deals.

“Our report shows that fraudsters will stop at nothing for financial gain during the festive period, which is why we are working hard together with our partners to highlight the threat and to prevent people from falling victim.

“To stop fraudsters in their tracks, be cautious of where and from whom you’re buying, especially if it is technology at a reduced price.

“Follow our simple advice so that your presents can be enjoyed by friends and family and not lost to fraudsters, and if you think you have been a victim of online shopping fraud, report it to us.”

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