With a rise in the number of shops offering Black Friday bargains, security experts say scammers are capitalising on the trend in the hope of conning shoppers.
Experts say fraudsters are becoming ‘more sophisticated’ in their attempts to con people out of their hard earned cash, making it harder to spot scams.
Nearly a quarter of people aged 18 to 34 in the UK say they have fallen for a scam linked to online shopping, with some losing thousands of pounds.
Cyber-security researchers say scammers are using multiple avenues to convince people to part with their money, including fake emails and false social media posts that link to websites that steal their credit card information.
Scams include emails that promise ‘unmissable Black Friday deals’ and cheap TVs, laptops and designer goods, say researchers.
Security experts from Proofpoint found that only 15 per cent of the top 20 Europe wide online retailers are actively blocking fraud emails from reaching customers (stock image)
Hackers and scammers also target employees of retail firms in the hope of gaining access to internal systems.
‘The bigger retailers will certainly be prime targets for criminals’ phishing scams given how much valuable personal and credit card information of thousands of customer data.
‘But smaller retailers shouldn’t be complacent. Hackers will take advantage of the fact that security measures at a small business might not be as robust of the big enterprises.’ Tim Sadler, CEO of security firm Tessian.
A survey for Barclays found that people who had fallen victim to a shopping related scam lost an average of £661 with 12 per cent losing more than £2,000.
Meanwhile, security experts from Proofpoint found that only 15 per cent of the top 20 Europe-wide online retailers are actively blocking fraud emails from reaching customers.
The company says this means ’85 per cent of Europe’s top online retailers are leaving customers open to email fraud.’
They say people can protect themselves from scams by ensuring they use a different password for every website they use, not following links in emails and watching out for ‘lookalike’ websites that pretend to be official.
‘These fraudulent sites may sell counterfeit (or non-existent) goods, be infected with malware, or steal money or credentials.’
‘Many people don’t know that fake offers and fake ads lurk even on legitimate websites,’ Frances Dewing, CEO of cybersecurity company Rubica told Business Insider.
‘Ads and banners along the side of sites are often from third parties, not the hosting site, so think twice if an offer asks for payment through non-mainstream, non-trusted sites, or asks you to log in to your bank or email to complete a payment.’
Police in North Yorkshire have issued a fraud warning, urging people to be careful on the run up to Black Friday and Christmas.
Officers say that based on previous years, it is likely there will be an increase in online shopping and auction fraud on the run up to Christmas.
They say this is in part due to the increase in the number of people searching online for a good deal, making them more vulnerable to being scammed.
Andy Fox, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer at North Yorkshire Police, said: ‘If you are a victim of shopping or auction fraud, the most immediate problem is that you have no real prospect of returning the goods or having your money refunded.
‘After this, there is a risk that your identity details could be compromised. Fraudsters could steal your identity and use it to access your personal finances or obtain goods or finance from alternative sources.’
Fraudsters employ a range of tricks to con people out of their money including creating fake websites, phishing emails and ‘dodgy social media posts’.
sPolice in North Yorkshire have issued a fraud warning, urging people to be careful on the run up to Black Friday and Christmas (stock image)
Experts say these posts will promise ‘unmissable Black Friday deals’ that then just lead to a website that will steal personal information including credit card details.
The run up to Black Friday and Christmas shopping seasons are ‘particularly fruitful’ for scammers, according to Mr Sadler.
‘At this time, consumers will receive hundreds of emails from retailers promoting their latest deals.
‘This provides cyber criminals, who are looking to steal personal data and payment details, a ripe opportunity to hide in the noise and prey on individuals who are not security savvy’
He said when an email looks like it is coming from a real brand and a real email address consumers are more likely to click on dangerous links and download harmful documents to their computer.
HOW DO YOU STAY SAFE WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE?
Security experts from Proofpoint say there are several steps shoppers can take to keep themselves safe when shopping online.
1. Use strong passwords: Do not reuse the same password twice. Consider using a password manager to make your online experience seamless, whilst staying safe. Use multi-factor authentication for an added layer of security.
2. Avoid Unprotected WiFi: Free/open-access WiFi is not secure: cybercriminals can intercept data transferred over unprotected WiFi, including credit card numbers, passwords, account information, and more.
3. Watch out for ‘lookalike’ sites: Attackers create ‘lookalike’ sites imitating familiar brands. These fraudulent sites may sell counterfeit (or non-existent) goods, be infected with malware, or steal money or credentials.
4. Dodge Potential Phishing and Smishing Attacks: Phishing emails lead to unsafe websites that gather personal data, like credentials and credit card data. Watch out for SMS phishing too —aka ‘smishing’ — or messages through social media.
5. Don’t click on links: Go directly to the source of the advertised deal by typing a known website address directly into your browser. For special offer codes, enter them at the checkout to see if they are legitimate.
6. Verify Before You Buy: Fraudulent ads, websites, and mobile apps can be hard to spot. When downloading a new app or visiting an unfamiliar site, take time to read online reviews and any customer complaints.