Bargain hunters have been warned to beware of online scammers during the Boxing Day sales after a year which saw a record number of cyber attacks and scams.
The December 26 sales are said to have become a “firm favourite” for fraudsters and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is encouraging people to shop online securely by taking particular actions.
The Government said reports to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveal that almost 100,000 people in the UK have fallen victim to online shopping fraud in the past 13 months – with over £60 million being reported lost.
The NCSC said strong and separate passwords should be used for the most important online accounts, including email, banking or payment accounts, and recommends the use of three random words to create a password.
People are urged to beware of emails, text messages or websites that look too good to be true or suspicious.
Shoppers should use a credit card for online payments if possible and research stores before buying to confirm they are legitimate through trustworthy consumer websites.
People should also only fill in the mandatory details on a website when shopping online which are often marked with an asterisk.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Cyber Crime Steve Barclay said: “With a record number of cyber attacks this year, it is crucial we all take some steps to keep ourselves and our families safe from scammers while shopping online, particularly in the Boxing Day sales, which have become a firm favourite for fraudsters.
“In the past year, Government and police action has seen numerous convictions on cyber fraud and we should all play our part to stamp out this terrible crime that can ruin lives.”
Paul Maddinson, director of national resilience and strategy at the NCSC, said: “Scammers will use any opportunity to try and trick the public and businesses into parting with their money so it’s really important that we all know how to protect ourselves.
“Whilst scams can be convincing, there are practical steps you can take to avoid falling victim to cyber crime which can all be found on the NCSC’s website.”