Millions of Brits are putting themselves at risk of financial fraud just to bag an online bargain

  • Almost a third of online shoppers admit they’re more likely to take a financial risk to get a good deal
  • Younger shoppers are most at risk as they’re more likely to take a chance
  • Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Financial Fraud Action (FFA UK) urges online shoppers to be vigilant to fraudsters’ tactics and ‘Take Five’ before they click on the buy button

Almost a third (31 per cent) of British online shoppers admit that they are more likely to take a financial risk (for example shop on an unfamiliar or unsecure website) if an online retailer offers them a bargain, research released by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) reveals today. It means there are potentially 15 million online shoppers who could be putting themselves at risk of financial fraud. Those aged 16-34 are most at risk, with almost half of that age group (46 per cent) admitting they are more likely to take a chance, compared to just 18 per cent of people aged 55 or over.

The findings come at the start of the festive shopping season, with Black Friday (25 November) and Cyber Monday (28 November) offering an upsurge of deals and limited time discounts. It is also a time when fraudsters will benefit from the bargain frenzy as they try to entice people into giving away their debit and credit card details on fake retail websites.

Criminals use scam emails, or fake ads on social media, or internet searches promising heavy discounts for desirable goods, to trick people into visiting the fake sites and entering their card details. Once the fraudster has harvested this information, they can then use the details to commit remote purchase fraud.

The research by FFA UK, carried out as part of Take Five – a campaign backed by all major banks and key financial services providers across the UK, also reveals other ways shoppers are putting themselves at risk:

  • more than one in five (22 per cent) online shoppers admit they never check the authenticity of an online retailer – such as looking for the padlock icon – before making an online purchase
  • almost one in five (19 per cent) online shoppers admit they would click on an unsolicited email if it promised them a good deal
  • more than a third (36 per cent) of consumers admit their shopping habits change when faced with an opportunity to bag a bargain
  • almost a quarter (24 per cent) admit their FOMO – fear of missing out – on a great deal leads them to let their guard down when it comes to online shopping.

Commenting, Katy Worobec, Director of FFA UK, said: “Shopping on the internet is easy, convenient and generally very safe, but it can also provide an opportunity for criminals to commit financial fraud from a distance. Our research shows that while more than eight in 10 people recognise that shoppers are more susceptible to financial fraud during this time of year, many are still willing to take a risk if they think there is a bargain to be had. Fraudsters will use a variety of convincing tactics to entice unsuspecting shoppers to give over their financial details – from unsolicited emails, to fake retail websites and bogus ads. Shoppers, wanting to take advantage of these too good to be true deals, are putting themselves at risk by not taking the time to ‘Take Five’ and protect themselves.”

To help online shoppers avoid falling victim to financial fraud this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Take Five campaign is advising:

  • Take Five before you buy. If you’re using a retailer for the first time, always take time to research them before you give them any of your details. Be prepared to ask questions before buying
  • Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to believe then there is usually a catch. Be suspicious of prices that are too good to be true
  • Be sure you know who you are dealing with. Always access the website you are planning to buy from by typing the address into your web browser, and be wary of clicking on links in unsolicited emails
  • Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar. It’s a good indication that they’re reputable
  • Only use retailers you trust, for example ones you know or have been recommended to you. If you’re buying an item made by a major brand, you can often find a list of authorised sellers on their official website.

Tony Blake, Senior Fraud Prevention Officer, DCPCU (Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit), said: “It is easy to forget the dos and don’ts about sharing personal information if you feel rushed into making a purchase and are under pressure. But it really does pay to ‘Take Five’ by doing your research when making an online purchase, particularly if you’re using a website for the first time. Consumers need to know that they may not see the impact of financial fraud immediately, i.e. during this shopping weekend, because if a criminal has harvested their financial details, they could use them at any time.”

The research has been released by FFA UK as part of the Take Five campaign which was launched in September 2016. The campaign aims to put consumers and businesses back in control with straight forward advice to help prevent financial fraud. It focuses on financial frauds directly targeting customers and is designed to remind people that it pays to stop and think by asking them to take five – to take that moment – to pause and think before they act.

Official FFA UK figures show e-commerce card fraud totalled an estimated £156.0 million in the first six months of 2016, a 46 per cent increase compared to the same period last year*. In 2015, financial fraud losses reached £755m, which represented a 26 per cent rise in 12 months.

Consumers and businesses can get more tips and advice on how to protect themselves from financial fraud by visiting the campaign website

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