Shoppers have been warned to be on their guard against cyber criminals as they prepare to splash the cash on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The next few days are expected to shatter records, with spending likely to hit around £385,000 per minute across the UK on Friday November 29, before peaking at £451,000 per minute on Monday.
Dave Williams, from insurance broker Bayliss and Cooke, said: “With such eye-watering sums of money being spent on Christmas shopping – a growing proportion of which is online – cyber thieves see it as an early Christmas gift.
“And this is why it’s more important than ever to be secure, and insured in the event of becoming an innocent victim.
“For example, when it comes to buying goods online, make sure you are using a secure internet connection – particularly if you are using your phone. You can spot this by looking for ‘https’ at the beginning of the web address, where there should also be a padlock symbol.
“Go to familiar websites rather than looking for stores through a search engine, and avoid buying items from mass emails or pop-up windows. Always log out of websites after you’ve placed an order, and don’t use public computers to make purchases.
“If you’re using your personal computer in a public area, make sure no-one else can see your screen with your personal information on it or try to use virtual private networks to make purchases.”
Retailers including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Amazon, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Currys PC World are all gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday by unleashing a raft of cut-price deals.
“Just because you are shopping with a big-name retailer, it doesn’t mean you are immune. It can happen to anyone, at any time.”
Last year in the UK, customers spent just under £1.5 billion on Black Friday, with experts predicting an even bigger spend this year.
“Don’t make this the season of goodwill for criminals. Always use a password to stop people accessing anything on your computer or smartphone. And if your device has a GPS or in-built location service, make sure you don’t add your home address so thieves with their eyes on your Christmas shopping won’t be able to find you.”