In the run up to last Christmas individuals and businesses across the UK lost more than £16 million in online shopping and auction fraud, according to the Action Fraud internet crime reporting centre, a rise of 42% on 2013.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the most common time for customers to come into contact with cyber-criminals was around the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales days last year.
He warned this year could be similar and added: “That is why I am urging people to keep their personal and financial information secure when making purchases online.”
Mr Swinney stated: “With the festive period fast approaching Scots can find a whole range of great online bargains ahead of Christmas. However, while shoppers are no doubt eager to capitalise on some of the biggest bargains of the year, we should also be vigilant we don’t lose out to cyber-crime and fraud.
He added: “There are some straightforward steps while shopping online, to help avoid cyber fraudsters. This includes shopping only with brands you know and trust, paying with a credit or debit card and enrolling cards in anti-fraud programmes provided by the card issuer, and never sharing your passwords with anyone.
“By taking these simple steps into account, we can all reduce our chance of falling prey to cyber-crime and fraud.”