black friday 2018

Beware of Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Love it or loathe it, the retail sector has jumped on the American bandwagon of Black Friday & Cyber Monday to launch the Christmas shopping season. Retailers offer eye-catching deals and shoppers go on a buying frenzy.

With many £millions being spent online and in store, this is boom time for fraudsters & criminals who take advantage of the sheer volume of transactions taking place so the police, banks, insurers and cyber experts are predicting a huge spike in criminal activity.

Whether you are a consumer or retailer you need to raise your awareness of the threat. Duncan Sutcliffe, director, Sutcliffe & Co Insurance Brokers advises: “Criminals love this time of year and use some surprisingly simple tricks to steal from us, therefore we need to be on our guard. However, because many of these tricks are simple they can be easy to defend against if you know how.”

If you want advice on reducing the risks a good place to start is www.getsafeonline.org. Here are some of Duncan’s top tips:

  • Don’t do online purchases using insecure connections: criminals often hack into or imitate public Wi-Fi in pubs, cafes, railway stations, etc.
  • Ideally you should use different passwords for different websites; at the very least you should never use the same passwords for home, work and shopping.
  • Make passwords complex: the longer the better. Recent advice is to use three random words for your password, incorporating upper & lower case, numbers and symbols.
  • Be suspicious of emails: if in doubt don’t click on links or attachments; you can ring the sender but don’t use the phone number on the email! Criminals will send out millions of emails in the hope that a handful of people will open them. You may purchase something and then get an email from your bank, the vendor, the delivery company, etc. This may be genuine but it may be a badly written fake that arrives by coincidence or even a carefully written fake with insider knowledge of the transaction.
  • Check invoices: Firstly, are you actually expecting this invoice, secondly, is the amount correct, thirdly are the bank details correct, lastly have you received the goods or are you certain that you will.
  • Don’t take requests to change bank account payment details at face value; check that the request is genuine.
  • Consider making purchases using a credit card rather than a debit card as there is often more protection in place in the event of a crime and often there are limits on spending, or have a card or account that is solely used for online purchases.
  • Make sure your computer and phone have virus protection and all patching is up to date.
  • Your computer system should have an up to date firewall and all default passwords on equipment, including routers, should be replaced.
  • If someone phones you to ‘help’ you with a problem do not give them any confidential information or allow them to access your computer or bank account.
  • Think about what you put on social media: do you need to publicise your date of birth, travel patterns and expensive new purchases?
  • If you are a business we recommend your security is compliant with the Cyber Essentials Certification as a minimum: www.cyberessentials.ncsc.gov.uk
  • Do you run a business? Do you have cyber and crime insurance? If you don’t, what will happen if you are a victim of a fraud or a hack?

If you need information, advice or risk management support then get in touch with a member of our team.

Duncan Sutcliffe
Director, Sutcliffe & Co Insurance Brokers - Worcester, Worcestershire