Seasonal scam warning for last minute Christmas shoppers

14 Dec 2021 10:23 AM

The NCSC urge last minute Christmas shoppers to stay safe online by following best practice guidance.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is urging last minute shoppers not to be panicked into buying presents from fake shopping sites or falling foul of seasonal scams. 

With under a fortnight to go until Christmas, the NCSC, which is a part of GCHQ, is advising shoppers to follow its advice on protecting devices and shopping securely online. 

The advice comes in one of the busiest weeks for Christmas shopping purchases as shoppers rush to meet the guaranteed delivery dates for Christmas. This peaks on the last Saturday before Christmas (Saturday, December 18). 

This shopping is increasingly happening online, with UK Finance revealing that last December saw a higher proportion of online shopping than any other previous year. 

The last-minute dash for buying presents can leave people more vulnerable to falling for scams, especially those that use topical ‘lures’ such as spoofing retailers or delivery companies.

NCSC Director for Policy and Communications, Nicola Hudson, said: 

“It’s great that people have the option to buy online as we enter the final days of Christmas shopping, but they should be alert to opportunistic scammers at this time of year.

“The good news is that there are common signs of a scam that people can look for, for example offers that seem too good to be true or claim that particular items are in short supply.

“To protect themselves, there are practical steps people can take, from setting a strong password on accounts to researching a brand before buying – much more can be found on this on the NCSC’s website.”

To avoid gifting the scammers this Christmas, the NCSC is advising shoppers to take steps to protect themselves when shopping online by following our cyber safety-first shopping checklist: 

The NCSC is also encouraging shoppers to show some festive goodwill by reporting any suspicious emails to its Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) by forwarding to or suspected scam text message by forwarding to 7726. Anybody who thinks they have discovered a scam website can report this directly to the NCSC on our website.

People can visit the NCSC’s website for guidance on shopping online securely and protecting their accounts and devices from the majority of online harms.