During the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, fraudsters are targeting online shoppers by offering bogus discounts and deals, spoofing websites of trusted retailers and stepping up phishing attempts—all in the name of exploiting consumers.

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is warning members of the public to think carefully before divulging their personal and financial information when shopping online.

Recent Cifas figures show a 34% increase in identity fraud compared to this time last year, as well as a sharp increase in facility takeover, where fraudsters gain access to an existing account, such as a bank account, and take control. This now accounts for 1 in 11 fraud cases on the National Fraud Database.To check whether a website you are visiting is safe or hiding malware— software that is designed to provide a backdoor to private information on your computer — shoppers are advised to use the Check-a-website tool launched earlier this year by Cifas and Get Safe Online.

Mike Haley, CEO for Cifas, said:

‘This time of year is fraught for consumers navigating the online retail space. With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, fraudsters have been quick to update their tactics, zeroing in on people seeking the most affordable options whilst household budgets remain squeezed.

‘If purchasing goods online this weekend, be careful when parting with your personal or financial details and never click on links in unsolicited emails or from unknown mailing lists. To maintain confidence when shopping online, use our Check-a-website feature, and report any suspicious websites to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).’

Tony Neate at Get Safe Online advises:

‘With Christmas online shopping in full flow, now is the time to stop and think about how you shop online and what you can be doing to do so as safely as possible. Whenever buying online, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

‘Avoid paying by bank transfer as much as possible and always stick to the platform you are using to make a payment. Use a credit card if you can as this will provide the strongest protection if you are scammed.

‘Finally, if you’re using a website you haven’t used before, check it is genuine before you buy by using Get Safe Online and CIFAS’s ‘Check a Website’ feature on getsafeonline.org.’

If you need legal services in case of an online fraud, you can find relevant information at manchesteruk.lawyer.