Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, has released new statistics showing that UK retailers have lost over £16m as a direct result of COVID-19.

The report, released via the organization’s website, attributes the rise to an across-the-board increase in eCommerce electronics sales fraud including mobile phones (19%), general electronics (10%), and Apple products such as MacBooks and AirPods.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, attributed the increase in fraud to new shoppers flooding the online retail space.

“The global outbreak of coronavirus has seen all our lives turn upside down, she said” With the lockdown being introduced, so many more people are now online shopping, including those who have never done so before. It is therefore unsurprising that there has therefore been an increase in fraud being committed.”

In addition, the Action Fraud’s data also shows that the largest number of victims are younger shoppers who are in their 20’s. Although it’s not clear what the exact cause of this is, Smith hints at a lack of caution among younger consumers, and a lack of knowledge about how to prevent account takeover fraud, as being a primary factor.

“It’s important to shop on sites you know and trust. If you’re using a site you’ve not used before, do your research and check reviews before making a purchase,” she said. “Always be wary of emails, texts and social media posts that offer products for considerably less than their normal price – this is a common tactic used by criminals. Where possible, use a credit card to make online purchases as this will offer you more protection if anything goes wrong.”

In addition to the data, Action Fraud also provides tips to shoppers for how to protect their information from hackers. Best practices include only shopping at trusted sites, not clicking on the links in promotional offers (which may be phishing attacks) unless you are sure of the sender, and using a unique password for every account.

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