Cybercrime as we currently think of it, has been a thorn in the side of the consumer for over four decades, since Robert Tappan Morris unleashed the Morris Worm upon the world. Since those early days, cybercrime has continued to evolve and become more sophisticated. One of the key times of the year for cybercriminals to strike is in the run-up to Christmas.
Price reduction global events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide cybercriminals with the perfect opportunity to strike . Increasing public awareness around cyber-crime is vital when trying to protect consumers. For example, last week a man aged 75 lost £1,550 of his Christmas savings after being target by WhatsApp scammers pretending to be his Granddaughter.
This is a prime example of the manipulative tactics that scammers use to victimise unsuspecting individuals. With little to no prior knowledge on how to identify a potential scam anyone could make the mistake of transferring money to whom they thought was a loved one.
Consumers and retailers alike now more than ever need to be vigilant and ensure that security is a top priority.
With this in mind, we look at what is currently being done by individuals and businesses to alert the public of the dangers of shopping online.
Celebrities including Robbie Williams, Bear Grylls and Holly Willoughby signed a joint letter urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to include paid scam adverts in the upcoming Online Safety Bill. Just a month after a government taskforce met in October to discuss ways to curb the sharp increase in online scams that has plagued the UK since the beginning of the pandemic. Banks such as Lloyds have also issued warnings after customers began falling victim to scams causing losses of up to £190 on average.
Action Fraud, the national cyber-crime centre, launched a new campaign called “Take Five stop Fraud” advising people to think before buying. This campaign offers advice to help everyone protect themselves from financial fraud including email deception, phone-based scams, and online fraud. Most people know not to give personal details away however it is easy to make mistakes when making rushed purchases, Take Five urges people to take a step back and consider whether the situation is genuine, and the site is secure.
The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has warned thousands of shoppers that they run the risk of having their bank details “skimmed” on the checkout page of small business websites. Whilst the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) uncovered an alarming 4,000 incidents where business websites had unknowingly leaked customers’ financial details to hackers. This announcement was made to alert consumer ahead of this year’s Black Friday sales event where 14% of Brits said that they were happy to shop on unfamiliar websites for a bargain.
As part of this announcement, they are also urging small businesses to update payment software to make it harder for hackers to infiltrate. The NCSC has reported an increase in “skimming” since the beginning of the pandemic prompting them to urge customers to shop selectively and only share necessary information.
If you have been affected by cyber-crime here are some resources and helplines:
- To report an incident, go to Action Fraud the UK’s fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre. Action Fraud also have 24/7 live cyber reporting service for businesses.
- Cyber Aware have resources online to help customers improve their online security.
- One can also report the offence to the police by dialling 101 on a mobile or landline.
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