Online shoppers warned to be wary of identity theft

Moore Thompson are warning clients to tread carefully when it comes to shopping online, after police crime watchdog Action Fraud launched a new campaign hoping to raise awareness of identity theft.

According to reports, an increasing number of online shoppers are failing to recognise the potentially worrying consequences of purchasing goods or services from ‘unknown’ sites – which may turn out to be bogus websites phishing for customers’ personal details.

Action Fraud recently revealed that it had shut down as many as 28,000 such bogus websites in the past three years, while a further 15,000 cases of bogus websites attempting to steal customer information were reported to the watchdog in the year to March 2017.

The group has said that common personal details customers are only too happy to give away when purchasing products online – such as addresses and credit or debit card details – are increasingly being ‘misused’ by fraudsters.

In many instances, scammers are using such details to set up separate counterfeit websites in the customer’s name, Action Fraud has said.

A report in The Mirror features the case of an Essex teacher named Emily – whose last name has been kept anonymous – as an example.

Emily reportedly purchased a pair of branded shoes from an online shopping website that later turned out to be counterfeit. Shortly afterwards, she discovered that her personal details and financial information had been used to set up another website advertising and selling counterfeit goods.

“Although no funds had been taken out of my bank account, it was very stressful and frustrating to learn that my personal details had been compromised,” she said.

“After the incident, I was left feeling scared and vulnerable; I have a little girl whose safety I feared for, as these criminals had details of where I live. I am also a teacher, and I feared that my job would be compromised if I was seen to not be upholding the law and acting with integrity.

“I think of myself as someone who is ‘tech savvy’ and so I was horrified when I discovered that I had been scammed. This goes to show that anyone can become a victim of this, no matter what walk of life they are from,” she said.

Moore Thompson are warning our clients to be extra careful when shopping online, and to stick solely to trusted websites when it comes to making purchases or inputting sensitive personal information.