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Brits could lose almost $1 billion to online scams this festive shopping season

New research has found that British shoppers could lose £800 ($977) million to online scams during the Christmas shopping period. Experts are urging people to stay alert.

In the last year alone, 13 million Brits have become victims of online shopping scams and have lost £1.4 billion ($1.7 billion) in total.

Now, people living and shopping in the United Kingdom are being warned to stay especially vigilant during this year’s festive season.

Shopping scams are expected to surge over the next two months and cost the nation over £800 million, new research from F-Secure, a cybersecurity company, has found. The firm’s experts are urging Brits to take measures to avoid losing precious cash to scammers.

The research, conducted among 2,000 UK adults, found that of those who had been scammed, shoppers aged under 25 were hit the hardest financially last year, losing as much as £245 million ($299 million) during the Christmas shopping period.

More than any other age group, two-fifths of those aged 25-34 are most likely to fall victim to scams. Further findings revealed that men are slightly more likely to be scammed (28%) than women (21%).

“The next couple of months are the biggest shopping weeks of the year, which we anticipate cybercriminals to try and take advantage of, particularly as the cost-of-living crisis may mean shoppers are looking for deals, but not necessarily safely,” F-Secure’s cybersecurity expert Tom Gaffney said.

The top shopping scams involve fashion items, gifts, tech devices, beauty, and food products. Scams are so prevalent that 56% of Brits now avoid shopping with small, independent businesses because of fears of online rackets, F-Secure says.

What’s more, scams are becoming increasingly more difficult to spot – a quarter of online shoppers admit they’re not confident that they can spot a dodgy site.

F-Secure says it’s possible to maximize safety online by, for example, making sure that a shopping website is legitimate. Using a credit card for purchases is also a good idea because you might stand a better chance of getting the money back with credit card coverage.

If you’ve not heard of a site before, do your research and check social media and reviews – but be wary of too many five stars as fake reviews can be purchased.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is, F-Secure finally says – legitimate stores tend to offer competitively priced offers. If you encounter an online store with exceptionally low prices, pay extra attention to other potential indications of a scam.

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