UK Shoppers Fall Victim To Online Fraud During Lockdown


Although Highstreet retailers have begun opening up their stores in a Covid-secure way, shoppers still more comfortable shopping for their products online. This, however, has led to and increase in online fraud, recent research gathered.


6,352 people in the UK fell victim to online shopping fraud, with young people most at risk. This posed a threat to trust in ecommerce as in result, 76 percent of UK shoppers see shopping online as risky.


Due to the rise of online activity by consumers, they have become a target for fraudsters, who are capitalising on opportunities to defraud shoppers. Ecommerce businesses must ensure their online commerce platforms are secure, however, they must also do their part in educating consumers on how to protect themselves from online fraud.


Covid-19 has become a perfect opportunity for online fraudsters to defraud online shoppers as many Highstreet retailers closed due to the pandemic. The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime has revealed new figures which showed £16 million has been lost to Ecommerce fraud during the Covid-19 lockdown.


Action fraud statistics showed the amount of UK shoppers that were victim to online fraud resulted at 16,352.


They also received reports of online shopping fraud totalling £16.6 million in losses since shops were forced to close on the 23rd of March due to the coronavirus outbreak. As for the items that shoppers purchased online that they did not receive, were items such as: Mobile phones -19 %, Vehicles -22 %, Electronics (such as consoles, AirPods and MacBooks) – 10% and Footwear – 4%.


Young people between from the ages 18-26 that lived in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bristol and Nottingham were most affected.


The district manager for RSA security, Ben Tuckwell believes the latest findings are much concerning. He said: “The warning from Action Fraud is concerning but not altogether surprising. Unfortunately, fraudsters thrive in times of disruption.


"The recent shift to e-commerce has been critical for both consumers and the economy, but fraudsters have been quick to take advantage too. In fact, in the first three months of 2020, RSA recovered details of over five million unique compromised cards globally."


He also believes that the ease in which consumers can shop with their mobiles could also be what fraudsters target next: ”As more retailers have guided consumers towards mobile apps as a means to transact, it seems fraudsters have also looked to exploit this shift."


Being able to identify online fraud nowadays has become tricky because of how identical a legit website and a fake website look. Although Action Fraud has provided necessary consumer advice, Tuckwell believes that banks, card issues and retailers must also step up and do more to tackle online fraud.


“Pioneering businesses are already applying machine learning to better predict whether a payment is likely to be fraudulent,” Tuckwell said.


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