Shoppers warned of a Black Friday and Christmas surge in fraud

Shoppers and businesses warned of a surge in fraud ahead of Black Friday and Christmas: We reveal how you can protect yourself

  • There have been warnings of fraud to shoppers and businesses this Black Friday 
  • Credit card application fraud is likely to peak over the period, Experian says
  • We reveal the top tips to protect yourself from identity fraud 

Shoppers and businesses are being warned to expect a surge in fraudulent activity ahead of Black Friday and the Christmas shopping rush.

Credit card application fraud is likely to peak over the period, with criminals looking to take advantage of an increase in genuine applications to attempt to access credit using stolen personal details, according to Experian, which analysed data from the National Hunter fraud prevention service.

It found the fraud rate for credit card applications increased by 43 per cent in the last three months – a trend predicted to continue and peak in November and December.

Shoppers and businesses are urged to be careful of fraud ahead of Black Friday this week

The rate rose by 107 per cent between December 2016 and December 2020, highlighting the increasing severity of the problem.

Eduardo Castro, head of identity and fraud at Experian, said: ‘The UK is experiencing a severe wave of fraud which shows no signs of abating and it is highly likely, as many of us head online to do Christmas shopping, that the trend will be even more pronounced over the next month.

‘The risk is to both businesses and consumers. With such a volume of digital transactions being carried out, it’s critical organisations can confirm their customers’ information is legitimate as frictionlessly as possible, while consumers should do all they can to protect their information online.’

Separate research from Compare the Market, which surveyed 2,000 adults, claimed millions of people have fallen victim to financial fraud in the past 12 months. 

Some 9 per cent of those responding had payment methods compromised by fraudsters in the past year, equating to almost 5million people if the figures are extrapolated nationwide to the adult population.

In 90 per cent of cases, money was stolen via online fraud, and on average cost victims £608 each. It said 50 per cent fell into debt as a result of the theft. 

Online payments made up 29 per cent of the frauds – up from 21 per cent two years ago – whilst 19 per cent were contactless payment scams and 17 per cent were phishing scams. 

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, the comparison site is urging spenders to stay vigilant online. 

James Padmore, head of money at Compare the Market, said: ‘Despite the temptation of big deals and discounts, it’s worth remembering that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

‘Some fraudsters are clever with the way they can make scams and websites seem genuine, and with online fraud increasing, it’s vital that people remain vigilant.’  

Credit card application fraud is likely to peak over the Black Friday and Christmas period

Credit card application fraud is likely to peak over the Black Friday and Christmas period

How to protect against ID fraud 

Experian has put together tips on how people can protect themselves from identity fraud this year.  

• Don’t share too much personal information on social media, such as mother’s maiden name, home address or when you’re away. It’s important make sure your privacy settings are up to date across all platforms.

• When you move address, always re-register on the electoral roll as soon as you can. This helps ensure your details are no longer registered at your previous address. It’s a good idea to set up mail redirection for a while too.

• Make sure you have an individual unique password for each online account you have. This means fraudsters are less likely to gain access to multiple accounts.

• Ensure your home Wi-Fi has a strong password, never sign in into password protected accounts on unsecured public Wi-Fi and make sure you have up-to-date antivirus software

• If you receive emails or text messages always be cautious about attachments, links or telephone numbers. If in doubt, visit the company website and contact them directly.

• Check your credit report, for free, on at least an annual basis to look for anything suspicious. This will show any applications for credit or new accounts. You can also monitor your credit score to look for any significant changes.