Warning on dangers of online Christmas fraudsters

Size matters… especially when it comes to passwords!

That’s the message from specialist cyber crime officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

Many people will already be thinking ahead to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in order to get the best online bargains before Christmas.

But shoppers need to beware of cyber criminals who use these sorts of events to target vulnerable people and exploit gaps in their online security.

Last year, over 30 per cent of fraud was cyber crime, and there were 3.24 million fraud incidents, 54% of which were cyber related, in the UK. Crime Survey for England and Wales 2018.

One of the most simple steps you can take is refreshing your passwords and remembering that password strength relates to password length.

For example, it is much more secure to use a passphrase instead of a single word.

There is a massive uplift in online shopping in the run-up to the festive season, which also means an opportunity for fraudsters to profit. You are more likely to be a victim of fraud or other cyber crime than any other type of crime, but many of these offences could be easily prevented.

It can be very easy to get caught out because your mind is elsewhere or you’re just too busy to do those little safety checks.

Detective Sergeant Chris White in SEROCU’s Cyber Prevent Team

Here are some top tips for safer online shopping over the Christmas period:

  • All products need to be setup and updated regularly, even brand new ones. Criminals can use weaknesses in your software to attack your devices and steal information.
  • Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security by making it harder for attackers to gain access to your devices or online accounts. Knowing just your password won’t be enough for them to get into your account.
  • Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. Over the Christmas period, the amount of phishing increases significantly.
  • The majority of Christmas deliveries are sent out via delivery companies or couriers. Crooks know this and send fake emails about bogus delivery problems, asking you to click on links to track your orders, or to contact them. If you want to contact a courier company to check on a delivery, look up their phone number or email address yourself – don’t use any links or information from an email.

More information about shopping safely online can be found at https://serocu.police.uk/individuals/

If you think you might have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, you can report it to Action Fraud any time of the day or night using the online reporting tool.

You can also call them on 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm.