FRAUDSTERS could rob you of your Christmas cheer if you don’t take care online, say Warwickshire Police.
Police chiefs have issued safety advice to online Christmas shoppers, warning that there is an annual spike in cyber crime around the festive period.
Between November 2014 and February 2015, there were 121 reports of online shopping and auction fraud in Warwickshire, resulting in a loss of £78,850, according to figures from National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).
And nationally, £16,426,989 was reported lost to online fraudsters last Christmas – a 42 per cent increase compared with 2013.
DCI Sean Paley, from Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police specialist operations unit, said: “We do not want to put people off using the internet to buy their gifts – if used safely it is an excellent resource – but we do want them to take some simple but effective steps to help protect themselves against falling victim to online crime.”
He urged online shoppers to ensure they update software and anti-virus systems, and to apply the same logic when using the internet as they would do in the real world.
He added: “A good tip is to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
These figures reveal the financial impact of online fraud but it is important to also remember the emotional impact that this kind of crime can have.”
Last year’s national report shows that the most common time for victims to make contact with the fraudster was on November 28 – ‘Black Friday’, which this year falls tomorrow (Friday November 27) – and December 1 – ‘Cyber Monday’.
Last-minute shoppers were also targeted, with 220 people reporting stings between December 20-23 last year.
Common items being bought and sold by victims and fraudsters were mobile phones, footwear, clothing, watches, gaming consoles, computers, furniture and home electricals.
Warwickshire Police issued the following top tips to stay safe online this Christmas:
– Safeguard your payment. Never transfer money directly into the seller’s account. Pay by card on a secure payment page, by cheque or cash in person
– Make sure payment pages are secure and you can see ‘https’ and a locked padlock or unbroken key symbol
– A credit card, rather than a debit card, gives you more chance of getting your money back if there are problems
– Remember Wi-Fi in public places is not always secure – even if you have to enter a code
– Think. After you have finished your online shopping or banking session remember to log out.
Visit www.getsafeonline.org and www.actionfraud.police.uk for more advice.
Visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 20 40 if you think you have been a victim of fraud.