“Millions placing themselves at risk of fraud chasing bargains online” reports Action Fraud

New research released by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) shows that 31% of online shoppers admit they’re more likely to take a financial risk if an online retailer offers them a bargain. This 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%, in fact) admitting they’re more likely to take a chance compared to just 18% 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 online bargains and time-limited discounts. It’s also a time when fraudsters try to entice people into giving away their debit and credit card details on fake websites.

Criminals use scam e-mails, 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 fraudsters have collected all of this information, they can then use the details to commit fraud.

The survey of more than 1,900 online shoppers (which was carried out as part of a campaign called ‘Take Five’) also discovered that almost one-in-five (19%) of those online shoppers questioned admit they would click on an unsolicited e-mail if it promised them a good deal. More than a third (36%) of consumers admit their shopping habits change when faced with an opportunity to bag a bargain, while almost a quarter (24%) admit their FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – on a great deal leads them to let their guard down when it comes to online shopping.

Avoid fraud on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

*’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’s 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 particularly wary of clicking on links in unsolicited e-mails

*Look for the padlock symbol in the address barIt’s a good indication that the site is 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 at the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, said: “It’s easy to forget the do’s and don’ts about sharing personal information if you feel rushed into making a purchase and are under pressure. However, it really does pay to ‘Take Five’ by doing your research when making an online purchase, and particularly so if you’re using a website for the very first time. Consumers need to know that they may not see the impact of financial fraud immediately, because if a criminal has harvested their financial details, they could use them at any time in the future.”

Security for retailers on Black Friday

Black Friday has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year, when retailers reduce prices across much of their stock to kick-start the Christmas gift-buying season. The Metropolitan Police Service is advising retail store security professionals to review their security plans if their company is taking part in this event and ensure that adequate resources are in place to respond to any increased demand.

Retailers should provide their own security arrangements during the sales and consider police assistance only as a “last resort”. Last year, there were incidents of overcrowding across London and arrests were made as shoppers clashed over bargains. Think about how you can improve on what you did in 2015 and be prepared for large crowds.

The following points are a list of considerations, but are by no means exhaustive:

*Premises should be suitably staffed with a prominent management presence (who can make themselves identifiable to police in the event of an incident)

*Where possible, security officers should have a visible presence on the premises and clearly display their ID badges at all times

*If your store has access to a community Shopwatch radio system ensure that it’s switched on and make good use of it during the day to liaise with neighbouring stores and local police officers

*Ensure that all members of staff are fully briefed and encourage a positive engagement ethos for staff to proactively engage with members of the public

*All staff should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to security and/or the police

*Check that your emergency equipment/First Aid supplies and radio communication systems are stocked and fully operational

*Check and test building security and emergency systems

*Ensure that all members of staff are fully aware of any emergency/evacuation procedures for the location

*Ensure CCTV coverage is fully operational and can provide the highest recording resolution possible and that staff members are trained in the operation of any on-site systems

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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