Over £16 million lost to online shopping fraud during lockdown

Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant and take extra care when shopping online.

Despite retail and non-essential shops re-opening across the UK, many of us continue to shop online. Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, is warning the public to remain vigilant and take extra care online, after statistics show 16,352 people fell victim to online shopping and auction fraud during lockdown. 

Since shops were forced to close, due to the coronavirus outbreak, on 23 March, Action Fraud has received reports of online shopping fraud totalling £16.6 million in losses.

Members of the public have reported buying mobile phones (19%), vehicles (22%), electronics (10%) such as games consoles, AirPods and MacBooks, and footwear (4%) on sites such as eBay (18%), Facebook (18%), Gumtree (10%) and Depop (6%), only to never receive the items. 

Nearly a quarter of victims (24%) were aged 18 to 26 residing in cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bristol and Nottingham. 

To protect yourself from falling victim to online shopping or auction fraud, remember the following:

Where to shop

If you’re making a purchase from a company or seller you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.

Email accounts

Use a strong, separate password for your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.

Phishing

Some of the emails or texts you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. Not all links are bad, but, if you’re unsure, don’t use the link and type the website directly into your browser instead.

Payment method

If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one. Other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

Do your research

For more information on how to shop online safely visit actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely.

Report

Remember, if you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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