Biggest ever rise in fraud in the US involving crime is feared as UK braces for summer break with rainy weather predicted
British consumers are being warned to be vigilant this Black Friday, the retail event where huge discounts on electrical items such as TVs are expected to tempt many shoppers out of their homes.
Police data showing that the number of shopping fraud operations in the UK increased by 29% last year, and 63% on Black Friday 2015, is adding to fears of a rise in the number of fraudulent scams.
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In the US, scams are expected to rise this Black Friday. Financial services provider First Data said that the number of incidents more than doubled in one year, and scammers across the world are expected to target shoppers using a variety of internet-based scams. The two biggest threats are phishing emails and man-in-the-middle attacks.
Phishing is an attempt to trick unsuspecting consumers into sending money or handing over personal details. They may seem legitimate at first, but in reality appear to come from a trusted source, such as the bank or retailer.
The manager of consumer experience at first data’s cyberattack division said: “According to the US Federal Trade Commission, some scams can be as simple as sending unsolicited emails in an attempt to get consumers to respond by clicking on links to download apps or upgrade programs that look suspicious.
“Banks are closely monitoring debit- and credit-card activity and issuing alerts and warnings, so consumers should remain vigilant about any potentially suspicious messages or emails.”
As a big step in protecting consumers, Apple is rolling out a new software feature that will automatically detect and prevent phishing attacks.
Cyber security experts are warning people to always be aware of scams when they are buying new devices or services online and keep an eye out for fake reviews that can help mislead people.
“When making purchases online, consumers need to be aware of some of the traditional scams, such as scams that seem like genuine offers but, once you’ve paid, do not want the item to be delivered or delivered to an incorrect address,” said Sarah Lockie, a UK-based senior security researcher at US cybersecurity firm FireEye.
The cyber security company F-Secure is advising people to use “aspects of the internet they know well”, such as self-service terminals, so that they don’t feel tempted to shop in the dark.
“Try using self-service bank machines, family websites and simply staying off the internet at night so that the screens are not as bright as they can be. So when it’s time to shop again, you will see the locations of shops and stores on the address bar in the browser,” the company said in a blog post.
It also recommends that people install software updates on all their systems on a regular basis and at each time of the day to help avoid being duped by false information.
Black Friday 2016
• Using the web for anything you would want or need to buy – online, off-line or in store – is often a good way to stay safe from scams. Once you’ve bought something, scan its packaging for fake logos or place a phone call to return it to its original place.
• Scammers can be very effective in getting you to click on fake links and therefore trigger a malware attack or into running a virus on your computer.
• You need to be aware of fake reviews when searching for an online item. F-Secure recommends that people read reviews from friends, families and other trusted people. Checking reviews can be difficult because most shoppers don’t post product information on their social media accounts.
Biggest ever rise in retail fraud in the US
• Nearly $15.4bn (£11.7bn) was lost to fraudsters in 2016, up 57% from the previous year.
• 88% of online shopping fraud victims fall into the “online fraud trap”.
• 81% of online shoppers researched the item they were buying before making the purchase.