More than £16million was lost to online fraudsters last Christmas, with the average victim losing £862.
This week, a Mumsnet poll found 90% of those surveyed have trouble recognising scams.
Criminals target victims through stolen mail, hacking and the dark web to get their hands on key information, before fraudulently applying for loans and buying goods in their names.
Are you putting your identity at risk? Take our quiz to find out – and learn how to protect yourself…
Black Friday sale
Your wi-fi connection goes down at home and you need to book a flight asap. Do you:
a) Use the free connection in the local shopping centre?
b) Visit a nearby coffee shop?
c) Curse but wait until your home connection is back up and running?
Public wi-fi spots are often not fully secure, so using them for online banking or shopping can have disastrous consequences.
The most common wi-fi threat is a man-in-the-middle attack when cyber-criminals take over a public network and redirect victims’ communications through the network.
Another is to set up a spoof network – an “evil twin”– using the name of a shop, hotel or cafe then infiltrate the victim’s device when they try to log on.
In short, emailing and using social networks are fine but avoid using banking services, and don’t
shop online and reveal your financial details.
The bank calls saying it suspects a transaction on your account is fraudulent then asks for your online banking password. Do you:
a) Give them the details?
b) Hang up and then call the number back?
c) Hang up, check the number is genuine and then call the bank from another phone line?
Banks will never ask for your personal details or security information, and customers should never respond to any call, email or text asking for this.
Fraudsters can also use fake numbers that look like the bank’s phone number to hide their identity. Use a number checker tool on the bank’s website to ensure it is genuine.
It is also worth phoning the bank from another line if possible, as crooks have been known to use a “no hang-up” scam, where they stay on the line to fool people into thinking they have called their bank.
You’re cold-called by a travel agent or company offering a very cheap holiday. Do you:
a) Pay a deposit immediately to secure the deal?
b) Check the comments other holidaymakers have left about this firm first and then book?
c) Check their site for spelling mistakes, images copied from other sites and whether they are registered with the Association of British Travel Agents.
Fraudsters use fake online adverts, bogus sales calls, emails and text messages offering incredibly cheap rates to tempt you to book a holiday with them.
They may also steal images of hotels or rented apartments from other travel websites and pass them off as their own, as well as posting what appear to be genuine reviews.
The con comes when you are told to pay in cash or via a bank transfer for a holiday or villa that doesn’t exist.
Don’t reply to unsolicited emails, texts, social media or calls with holiday offers. Again, links and attachments in emails may lead to malicious sites or viruses.