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Female Christmas shoppers face higher online fraud risk

24th November 2011 Print

In the lead-up to Christmas, The UK Cards Association is running its successful Be Card Smart Online campaign again. The focus this year is on younger female shoppers, as research shows they are at greater risk of online fraud as many of them are failing to take simple steps to stay safe when they shop over the internet.

Banking industry initiatives coupled with cardholders being more aware of fraud prevention measures have resulted in a 40 per cent drop in card fraud losses in the past couple of years, down from £609.9 million in 2008 to £365.4 million last year.

However, research from the National Fraud Authority (NFA) has revealed that only 8 per cent of women aged 26-35 protect their computers with up-to-date anti-virus software. In response, the Be Card Smart Online campaign is urging young women in particular to follow the simple checklist below to reduce their chances of being a fraud victim this Christmas.

More than 35 million of us shopped online in the past year - 52 per cent up on the 23 million who shopped online just six years ago. And figures from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) forecast that UK shoppers are set to spend £7.75 billion online between 28 November and 31 December, an increase of 14 per cent from the £6.8 billion spent online last Christmas.

As part of the campaign these top tips will be featured online at selected shopping websites until the end of December and also at

1 Keep your PC protected by installing up-to-date anti-virus software. Ensure your browser is set at its highest level of security notification and monitoring - the safety options are not always activated by default. Turn on ‘automatic updates' when asked. This will allow you to decide when and how updates are installed.

2 Look for the padlock symbol - especially if you're buying from a website for the first time. It's a good indication that the online retailer is reputable.

3 Register your cards with Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode or American Express SafeKey when prompted. It is quick and easy and makes shopping online even safer.

4 Always log out after shopping online and save the confirmation e-mail as a record of your order.

The UK's banking and retail industries are fully supportive of the Be Card Smart Online campaign. Katy Worobec, Head of Fraud Control for The UK Cards Association, says:

"Christmas should be a time for taking things easy, but unfortunately fraudsters don't stop targeting our cards over the festive period. This is why we are urging anyone who is planning to shop online this Christmas not to be complacent about security. You are your own best front-line of defence and following Be Card Smart Online's simple steps can help prevent you becoming another fraud statistic."

In addition, shoppers can make sure that gift buying online is stress-free by doing the following:

Be sure you know who you are dealing with - always access the website you are planning to buy from by typing the address into your web browser.

Ensure you are the only person that knows your PIN - never share it with anyone, either in person, over the telephone or in an email.

Trust your instincts - if an offer looks too good to believe then there is usually a catch. Be suspicious of prices that are too good to be true.

Keep records - keep details of your order and the retailer's terms and conditions, returns policy, delivery conditions, postal address (not a post office box) and phone number (not a mobile number).

Having this information will help if you subsequently encounter difficulties with your order. Keep your receipts and check these against your statement. If you spot a transaction you did not authorise tell your card company immediately.

Section 75 protection - if you are buying something between £100 and £30,000 consider using a credit card, as you will then have extra protection through Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This covers you whether the online retailer is based in the UK or abroad. Section 75 states that should a problem subsequently arise, such as the company going out of business, you can claim your money back from your credit card company.

Fraud protection - If you are an innocent victim of any type of card fraud you will not suffer any financial loss.

Anyone who is unfortunate enough to be the victim of card fraud should report the incident first to their card company and then to Action Fraud at

More information about shopping safely online is available at