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Don’t let cyber criminals spoil the festive fun 

This Article was taken from the weekly newsletter from Ron Ball, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Warwickshire. We thought it worth sharing again as the advice is timely for those last minute bargains! If you don’t get Ron’s weekly newsletter, you can subscribe here and is a  good read, with lots of varied articles. Here’s Rons Advice on avoiding Cyber crime this christmas. 

I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing this year while Christmas shopping that our town centre shops don’t seem quite as busy as in years past. While there are still plenty of people about, it does not feel anything too out of the ordinary – more like a normal Saturday. I suspect that might be down to the rise in internet shopping, allowing more and more people to do their browsing from the comfort of their homes.

This is a brilliant and often time saving way to shop around but, as with anything internet-related, there can be dangers too. While it  is fantastic resource for people searching for that special something for friends, family and loved ones, internet shopping also presents opportunities for fraudsters to set up scams.

Between November 2014 and February 2015, there were 121 reports of online shopping and auction fraud in Warwickshire, resulting in a loss of over £78,000, according to figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.  In truth, both figures are likely to be much higher as we know from our own Internet Safety Survey that crimes of this type often go unreported.

Nationally last year the most common item being bought and sold by victims and fraudsters were mobile phones. People reported trying to get good deals on some of the most popular models of smart phones, but what they thought was going to be a bargain never actually arrived leaving them without presents to give on Christmas day. Others reported being defrauded whilst trying to buy footwear, clothing, watches, gaming consoles, computers, furniture and home electricals.

So, if you are still hoping to snag late Christmas presents or will be hitting the internet to snap up bargains in the January sales, do remember to follow the advice of Warwickshire Police’s #BeCyberSmart campaign. If a bargain seems too good to be true it probably is!

Keep these simple rules in mind and you are much less likely to become a victim of scammers and fraudsters:

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.

For more information about staying safe online and the scams to look out for go towww.getsafeonline.org or visit Warwickshire Police’s online shopping advice. Also, keep an eye out for the #becybersmart hashtag on Twitter.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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About Paul Collett (37 Articles)
Paul is a Community Safety Project Manager, based in Rugby. He is the countywide lead on hate crimes for the Comminity Safety Team. Community Safety Project Manager Community Safety & Substance Misuse Team Communities Group Warwickshire County Council Tel: 01788 533817 Mobile: 07710 335685 Email: paulcollett@warwickshire.gov.uk
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