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Be safe online this Christmas

Published: 30 Nov 2015 00:01

Keep your details safe when shopping online this Christmas.

As Christmas approaches, Deputy First Minister John Swinney is calling on Scots to keep personal and financial information secure when shopping online.

The call comes as figures from Action Fraud and Get Safe Online show that individuals and businesses reported losing over £16 million through online shopping and auction fraud last Christmas across the UK. This represented a 42% increase in total financial loss compared to 2013.

Record numbers of Scots are expected to go online this year for their Christmas shopping, creating opportunities for retailers and bargain hunters, but also opportunities for cyber criminals.

Just last month the Scottish Government's launched its Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland – a Programme for Government commitment – mapping out how individuals and businesses can increase their online resilience by taking some simple steps.

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said;

"With the festive period fast approaching Scots can find a whole range of great online bargains ahead of Christmas. However, while shoppers are no doubt eager to capitalise on some of the biggest bargains of the year, we should also be vigilant we don't lose out to cybercrime and fraud.

"Last year the most common time for victims to come into contact with cyber criminals was on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it is likely to be the same again this year. That is why I am urging people to keep their personal and financial information secure when making purchases online.

"There are some straightforward steps while shopping online, to help avoid cyber fraudsters. This includes shopping only with brands you know and trust, paying with a credit or debit card and enrolling cards in anti-fraud programmes provided by the card issuer, and never sharing your passwords with anyone.

"By taking these simple steps into account, we can all reduce our chance of falling prey to cybercrime and fraud."

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said:

"It's such a shame that while shoppers are on the hunt for great gifts for loved ones, criminals are using the festive period as another opportunity to trick people out of their money and their presents. As everyone swarms online for great Cyber Monday deals, this is sadly a time of year used by fraudsters to approach victims and make some good finds of their own.

"We've been working with Action Fraud and the City of London police to highlight how people and businesses need to be extra cautious when hitting the sales online and it is great to have the Scottish Government rising awareness too.

"Changing simple things can help to keep you protected, like only going for reputable retailers and places people recommend. Take the time to find the official website, rather than being tricked out by copycats, and definitely don't just go for the first place that comes up in a search engine. "

Notes to editors

The Scottish Government launched its Cyber Resilience strategy on November 18. Safe, Secure and Prosperous: A Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland can be found here

Online Shopping Safety Advice:

  1. Shop only at Internet businesses you know and trust.
  2. Beware of emails offering cut-rate prices on popular toys, software or other gifts; if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. If you receive an unsolicited email from an Internet business, don't click on the links within it. Instead, locate the business' website address through a reputable search engine.
  4. Check Internet businesses' refund policies; some merchants set a deadline for returns or charge a fee to accept returned merchandise.
  5. Pay with a credit or debit card; for extra protection enroll your card in anti- fraud programmes provided by your card issuer.
  6. Never share your passwords with anyone, and use different passwords for different Web sites.
  7. Protect your private information. When shopping online, look for the retailer's Web site privacy policy and never provide your Social Security number, birth date, or mother's maiden name.
  8. Ensure your computer has the latest anti-virus software installed before shopping online.
  9. Always print and save the confirmation page when completing an online purchase.
  10. Don't wait for paper statements, Check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity by either calling your bank or visiting your financial institution's Web site.