Britons are being warned to stay alert this year with shopping scams expected to surge over the next two months during the festive season, which could cost the nation over £800 million.
It comes as new research released today reveals that over 13 million Britons have been victim to an online shopping scam in the last year which has amounted to a loss of £1.4 billion.
With over £800 million lost during the festive shopping season alone, cybersecurity experts are urging Brits to take measures to avoid losing cash to scammers as clothes, gifts and tech all top the list of popular scam buys.
The research, conducted among 2,000 UK adults by Censuswide and commissioned by F-Secure, a global leader in cybersecurity, found that of those that had been scammed, those aged under 25 were hit the hardest financially, losing as much as £245 during the Christmas shopping period while two–fifths of 25-34 years old, more than any other age group, are most likely to fall victim to scam.
The research found the top 10 shopping scams are:
1. Fashion item 16%
2. Gifts 16%
3. Tech or IoT devices 15%
4. Beauty 13%
5. Food 13%
6. Sport gear 12%
7. Furniture or home dec 12%
8. Vehicles 12%
9. Travel 12%
10. Concert tickets / event tickets 11%
Further findings revealed men are slightly more likely to be scammed (28%) than women (21%).
The loss isn’t just hitting British pockets, the impact is also hitting the UK economy as the research revealed shopping scams are likely disproportionately affecting smaller retailers – which could force them out of business as more than half (56%) of Britons admit they now avoid shopping with small, independent online businesses, feeling more secure shopping with well-known brands.
However, the reality is that scams can occur with any sized retailer. Small independents accounted for 27% of the UK’s scams last year, only marginally more than large online platforms (such as Amazon and eBay) 23% and large retailers 21%.
Tom Gaffney, F-Secure, said: “The next couple of months are the biggest shopping weeks of the year which we anticipate cybercriminals to try and take advantage of, particularly as the cost-of-living crisis may mean shoppers are looking for deals, but not necessarily safely.
“We would urge everyone to be extra vigilant at this time of year and follow our tips before making any purchase online. Scams are becoming increasingly more difficult to spot but consumers can do very simple things to check they are safe when they’re shopping.”
With a quarter of online shoppers admitting they’re not confident they can spot a dodgy site, here are F-Secure’s top tips to stay safe when shopping online:
Use an online checker such as F-Secure’s ‘Online Shopping Checker’ to identify if a website is legitimate.
Always use a credit card where possible because you might stand a better chance of getting your money back with credit card cover.
If you’ve not heard of a site before, do your research, check social media and reviews – but be wary of too many five stars as fake reviews can be purchased.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Legitimate stores tend to offer competitively priced offers. If you encounter an online store with exceptionally low prices, pay extra attention to other potential indications of a scam
F-Secure’s new Online Shopping Checker allows shoppers to test any online store’s URL to confirm its legitimacy. The free tool detects the reliability of the store and shows trust ratings before making a purchase. The same technology is included as ‘Trusted Shopping’ in F-Secure’s Browsing Protection: F-Secure Online Shopping Checker | F-Secure