With Cyber Monday fast approaching, Brits are being asked to be extra vigilant. The number of online scams has grown rapidly over the past few years, and scammers have become increasingly sophisticated at taking money from shoppers.
On Friday, chief of the National Cybersecurity Center, Felicity Oswald, said that cyber criminals would be on the hunt to “scam people out of their hard-earned cash.”
“The increased availability and capability of technology like large language models is making scams more convincing,” she explained.
Shoppers lost over £10m to online scams last year during the festive period, which included Black Friday and Cyber Monday according to the NCSC.
City A.M. spoke to Oz Alashe MBE, cybersecurity expert and CEO of CybSafe, who gave his top tips on how to stay safe from online scams over the shopping weekend.
“Cyber Monday is not just a time for bargain hunters, it’s also a time for criminals to hunt for financial information and sensitive data,” he said.
“People need to be armed with the knowledge and insight to spot these threats before they cause them harm. A key part of this comes down to security behaviours and implementing good cyber hygiene techniques to keep consumers, their friends and their families secure.”
Here are the five most common online scams to look out for.
Malicious emails and texts
Criminals will use big spending days to spam people with communications related to deals and discounts. If you get one, check the address where the email or text is coming from. Does it look legitimate? Only click on links if you are absolutely sure it is genuine. If not, delete!
Watch out for spoofed domains
Criminals will set up lookalike websites of legitimate brands in a bid to trick shoppers into handing over their financial information.
Always double-check the URL of the websites you visit, and be cautious of links that come in through email, text, or promoted on social media. If you’re unsure, google the brand to see if the deals advertised are on their official website.
Use credit cards instead of debit cards for purchases
Credit cards have better fraud protections if your information does get compromised – making them a handy tool to protect against online scams.
If it is clear your credit card has been used by someone else, you should get back the full sum spent, although you must be sure to notify your provider immediately.
Check return policies and read reviews before buying from unfamiliar sites
Scam sites often have no return policy or very short windows to return items. See if there are reviews about issues with fraud or counterfeit products. If something seems sketchy, trust your instincts.
Get cyber savvy to beat online scams
Educate yourself on the techniques criminals use, and then think about what you can do to improve your security.
Use multi-factor authentication on the online accounts that offer the service. Use strong, unique passwords. Use anti-malware and email security solutions, and always keep a backup of your important data. These behaviours will make you significantly more secure online.