UK Faces Most Fraudulent Christmas Ever, Barclays Warns

Record levels of cybercrime coupled with the growth of festive e-commerce will result in the most fraudulent Christmas ever for online shoppers, according to new data from Barclays.

The banking giant has warned of a ‘perfect storm’ for seasonal online theft as consumers gear up to start spending ahead of the big day with scams become increasingly more sophisticated.

Barclays said more than a quarter of online scams happen over the Christmas period and estimated that festive fraud will cost victims a total of £1.63bn (an average of £893 per individual hit). It will impact retailers too; online shops could be losing out on up to £72m worth of lost revenue.

What’s more, UK shoppers are failing to protect their data and stay safe online, with 38% of online consumers surveyed by Barclays admitting they either don’t know, or aren’t sure, how to identify a secure website when shopping online. Further, of victims who had previously fallen victim to online fraud, less than an a quarter said they checked for the padlock authentication symbol in the address bar on the payment page or that the web address started with ‘https’.

“While families across the UK are preparing to enjoy the festive season, criminals are getting ready to pounce on anyone who lets their guard down,” said Samantha White, who leads Barclays’ work to keep customers safe from fraudsters. “Buying your gifts online may be more convenient, but with Christmas 2017 set to be the most fraudulent on record, online shoppers must be more vigilant than ever.”

Speaking to Infosecurity Steve Durbin, managing director, Information Security Forum, advised consumers to “stop and think” before they press the button when shopping online, and advocated the following tips to try and be safer this holiday season:

  • Never use a debit card – this opens up your entire bank account and you could end up losing the lot; it may take several weeks for your bank to investigate the case and refund the money
  • Make sure you’ve updated your security software before you start making your purchases and make sure both your firewall and anti-virus programs are working
  • Avoid clicking on emails from companies you have never heard of offering great deals, don’t follow their links and don’t download attachments unless you are 100% certain that they’re genuine. This is a well-used path for malware
  • Consider changing your passwords – identity thieves may steal user IDs and passwords from one website and use them to log into other sites
  • Regularly review your transactions – if you do notice suspicious transactions when reviewing your account statements or online activity, immediately call the number on the back of your card

“Finally, if you receive an email from your bank warning of unusual card activity never click on the email link,” he added. “Visit your bank’s website directly by typing in the URL and using the messaging system offered on the bank’s website.”

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