During the run-up to Christmas last year, more than15 million pounds was lost due to online shopping scams. This number is only expected to increase during the festive season as shoppers hunt for the perfect present for their loved ones this year.
Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud says, “Christmas is an incredibly busy time for us all but sadly, criminals will see this is as an ideal opportunity to take advantage of shoppers who are caught up in the excitement of securing a bargain online.
“If you think you have found a bargain that is too good to be true, it probably is. Stop and think before making a purchase as it could protect you and your money.
“Always shop with official retailers and follow our simple advice to enjoy shopping online safely and ensure you are not left empty handed this Christmas.”
5 tips to stay safe online this Christmas
To help online shoppers stay protected during the run-up to Christmas, private and commercial banks, Arbuthnot Latham has provided 5 top tips to ensure that shoppers do not get caught in deals that are too good to be true this Christmas:
- Do your research. Check the prices of items you are interested in before Black Friday weekend to understand the actual saving better. If a deal looks too good to be true, it is probably a scam.
- Only use secure websites from trusted brands. Look for the padlock symbol or ‘https’ in the address bar.
- Use debit or credit cards to make purchases as you have added protection. Never make a bank transfer.
- Watch out for fake mobile messages, social media adverts, and emails with suspicious links, grammar, and spelling mistakes or communication which appears ‘off brand’ These may include: fake confirmation of order emails, fake offers or links to vouchers and text alerts about missed deliveries
- Often, a quick internet search of the company name and the word ‘scam’ will identify if there is a known scam in circulation.
Protecting yourself from cyber criminals
Ensuring your electronic devices are protected with anti-virus software and firewalls can prevent a scam before it even appears on your device.
If you feel you have fallen victim to online fraud, it is vital to act fast and not panic; alert your bank straight away on a number you trust, such as the one provided on the website.
Keeping up to date on the latest fraud scams can also be highly beneficial, giving shoppers a head start with what to look out for. One of the most common ones at the minute is the Energy Bill Support Scheme scams, which are being sent out via text message.
Action Fraud also advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.
• Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
• Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
• Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.