Online shoppers have been warned by GCHQ to “be on their guard” this Christmas after scammers swindled customers out of millions last year.
The National Cyber Security Centre has launched a TV advertising campaign, backed by organisations including Microsoft, Vodafone, BT, ASOS and Barclays, urging online shoppers to remain cautious of the increasing number of online scammers.
According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau shoppers lost a total of £13.5 million between November 1 2019 and January 31 2020, with more than 17,000 cases reported.
This meant the average victim lost £775 per incident last year.
“This year we have spent more time online than ever before,” paymaster general Penny Mordaunt said.
“Whether it be working or shopping online, criminals and others often see the internet as another means to cause harm.
“As we approach the Christmas season, we should all be on our guard and take the practical Cyber Aware actions to keep us safe as we work, shop and socialise online.”
The NCSC is advising customers to take a number of measures to protect themselves this holiday season, including using a strong password and separate password for their email.
NCSC chief executive Lindy Cameron added: “Technology will play an essential role over the festive period, with more people shopping online than ever before.
“Scammers stole millions from internet shoppers last Christmas – but, by following our advice, you can protect yourself from the majority of their crimes.
“We hope the Cyber Aware campaign helps people to shop confidently online and enjoy their Christmas.”