Christmas is on the way and online scammers are coming to town
Scam artists, conmen and rip of merchants just love Christmas.
Because shoppers are spending like crazy and they’re more than likely super busy, so that means their guard will be down.
What could be better for a cyber criminal?
Every year online fraud costs the UK over £15 billion.
Every year the authorities launch ‘be aware’ campaigns, but every year more of us are being conned.
Our advice – don’t let common sense go out the window as the buying frenzy takes hold.
The special danger period is right before Christmas, December 22 to 23, when people are shopping for those last-minute presents.
And the commonest item sold by fraudsters and bought by victims?
Mobile phones - the most common Christmas scam
Anyone shopping for terrific bargains, especially on the latest models, beware! You are exactly who the cyber villains are looking for.
Often the item simply doesn’t arrive in the post.
Other people report being ripped off when buying footwear, clothing, watches, gaming consoles, computers, furniture and electrical items for the home.
Victims are found throughout the country, but are most common in London and the West Midlands.
Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, Commander Chris Greany, advises: “When it comes to online shopping, if something looks like it is a great bargain it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t even exist.
“Fraudsters and online criminals are relentless and will stop at nothing, giving absolutely no thought as to whether you and your family are left without presents at Christmas time.”
Top 10 tips to avoid the Christmas scammers
If something appears to be real stand out bargain, alarm bells should ring.
Make sure you know who you are dealing with.
Be sceptical. Don’t rush in to handing over your cash.
2) Pay securely
Only ever pay by secure means – use a credit card or a service like PayPal.
Never pay direct into another bank account.
3) Ticket fraud
Watch out especially for ticket fraud.
Check out the retailer by doing a search for what other people are saying about them.
Generally, it’s best to buy only from official sources such as the venue itself.
4) Holiday bookings
Before booking holidays, villas in the sun and flights, make sure you know who you’re dealing with, that the site is genuine and, again, check them out by searching for what others are saying online.
5) Unwanted communications
If you receive a phone call or an email offering any service or product that you haven’t asked for, immediately be wary.
Some scammers are extremely clever these days and emails can seem genuine.
Think before you click and never be rushed into making a decision about any purchase
6) Update passwords
Have a password review.
If you use the same for lots of accounts, the best advice is to vary them.
Are your passwords a bit too obvious? If in doubt, mix them up and make them more random.
Better to forget one and have to reset it than find you’ve been hacked.
7) Watch out for WiFi
Never use free WiFi when you’re out and about if what you’re doing is private.
8) Watch out for free sample scam
Do no fall for the free sample con, where you get a sample but also agree to a monthly charge for a product you don not want.
Read the small print.
Better still ask yourself why you need to give all your bank details for a free trial.
9) Attachment awareness
Don’t open seasonal attachments or click on amusing links if you don’t know who they're from – they may have a seasonal, charming Christmas theme but could be hiding something other than merry wishes.
10) Get inoculated
Christmas is also a popular time for those who like to create havoc by sending new viruses to ply their trade.
So, beef up the virus protection on your PC and especially keep software up to date.
Even when we're careful, getting conned can happen to the best of us so it's important to know how to get your money back.
If you think you've been the victim of a scam, get in touch with A Spokesman Said - we'll publicise your issue and fight for fair treatment.
This guide was updated on 10.11.16 to include up to date tips and information
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