Back in 1979, Sir Bob Geldorf and his band the Boomtown Rats made "I Don't Like Mondays" a classic pop hit. Most people still don’t like Mondays much 34 years later, but we do like this one: Cyber Monday, the unofficial high point of the online holiday shopping season.
Cyber Monday got its name in the US in 2005. It’s less a holiday than a marketing ploy to encourage shoppers to spend following the famous Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving. First you spend in the malls, then when you head back to work you spend online. In the past almost all online retailers have seen their sales increase dramatically on the Monday following Thanksgiving.
The term and phenomenon have been adopted across the globe. This year just one of the card schemes, Visa, is expecting 7.7 million online purchases totalling £450 million to be performed on its cards.
Who else likes Cyber Monday? Cyber crooks.
Many consumers will be engaging in their first online shopping experience this season. Many more have done it before but are still naïve when it comes to security. Encouraged by friends and family and the promise of convenience and better deals, these consumers will type information into their computer, tablet or smart phone device, divulging personal and payment account details that they would never previously have considered providing openly or to an unknown "stranger." Name, delivery and billing addresses, telephone numbers, payment card number, valid from and expiry dates, card security codes, account passwords, etc can all be at risk if the unwitting consumer enters a criminal site, or has malware on their device, or responds to emails or clicks links which falsely purport to be from an on-line order provider.
And the criminals do not rest there. They know that some consumers will not often receive parcels at home and may be unsure what the delivery protocols are. A while ago I blogged about the phenomenon of "low tech" fraud, which included using accomplices or couriers to access customers' payment card details on the door step. These scams continue to persist and mutate.
The wealth of deliveries across the Christmas period lays unsuspecting consumers open to criminals eager to harvest payment card and signature or PIN data. The delivery agent says, "To verify your delivery, please put the payment card that you used on-line into this device, enter your PIN and sign here." If you didn't know that such a scam existed, and were unfamiliar with how goods are delivered from online firms, would you fall for it? What about your friends, colleagues or relatives? An alarming number of people can be fooled in this way.
There is a great need to educate consumers on a regular basis about how to shop safely online and how to avoid being duped by criminals. My colleague Martin Warwick has previously outlined some suggestions. Without greater consumer awareness of fraud’s canny ways, they, their banks and the retailers they frequent may all be singing "I Don't Like Mondays."