The UK’s cybersecurity agency is urging online shoppers to take extra care when searching for Black Friday bargains to prevent cybercriminals taking advantage of the sales rush.
The National Cyber Security Agency (NCSC) said the festive period can be a lucrative time for criminals as online transactions increase.
The NCSC has issued a new set of tips designed to help people stay safe when shopping online, including being selective about where they buy items from, only providing necessary information and making sure they use secure, protected payment systems.
The tips are part of a wider campaign, #FraudFreeXmas, which has been launched by Action Fraud in response to a rise in online scams.
Sarah Lyons, the NCSC’s deputy director for economy and society, said: “At this time of year our inboxes are filling up with promotional emails promising incredible deals, making it hard to tell real bargains from scams.
“We want online shoppers to feel confident they’re making the right choices and following our tips will reduce the risk of giving an early gift to cybercriminals.
“If you spot a suspicious email, report it to us or if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, report the details to Action Fraud and contact your bank as soon as you can.”
Earlier this year, the NCSC and the City of London Police launched the suspicious email reporting service (SERS), which has since received more than 2.3 million reports from the public and led to thousands of malicious websites being taken down.
The new tips for Black Friday also include guidance on how to spot suspicious messages and what to do if they are impacted by cybercrime.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), encouraged the public to follow the NCSC’s advice.
“With more and more of us browsing and shopping online, retailers have invested in cutting-edge systems and expertise to protect their customers from cyber-threats, and the BRC recently published a cyber resilience toolkit for extra support to help to make the industry more secure,” she said.
“However, we as customers also have a part to play and should follow the NCSC’s helpful tips for staying safe online.”