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Last minute shopping? Fraudsters taking advantage of the Christmas rush

There are just a few days left to get all of your Christmas shopping sorted and whilst people are rushing around, online shopping fraudsters are using the run-up to the big day as an opportunity to illegally make money.

On the November 23rd Action Fraud, the City of London Police and Get Safe Online released a campaign called ‘Don’t Get Conned out of Christmas’ to help people avoid becoming a victim of online shopping fraud.  This followed a report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau which showed that last year £16,426,989 was reported to be lost by victims to online shopping fraudsters during the festive period. This compares to the £9.5 million lost by victims of online shopping fraud in 2013.

On this day (21/12) last year, 43 people said that they first made contact with an online fraudster and ended up never receiving the goods that they expected.

On 22 December last year 60 people reported making initial contact with cyber crooks, whilst on the 23 December 57 people said that they had entered into conversation and subsequently been defrauded by an online criminal.

These figures serve as a warning to last minute shoppers and show that even when there isn’t much time to spare; online shoppers still need to be vigilant in order to protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud and cyber crime.

Victims can use the following guidelines to prevent themselves being conned out of the Christmas they deserve: 

  • If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t exist.
  • Use methods like PayPal when buying on auction sites; never transfer money to someone you don’t know.
  • When making a transaction always look out for a padlock in the web tool bar, the padlock indicates that the site is secure.
  • The ’s’ on the end of 'http' is another essential indicator that a site is secure for making transactions.
  • If you’re buying tickets, always buy from official sources and never pay by direct transfer
  • If you’re buying a holiday online, research it thoroughly to ensure that is a genuine offer and check to make sure it is registered with ABTA and ATOL.
  • Secure Wi-Fi is vital for your privacy. Check that the network you’re using is secure before you make any financial transactions.
  • Always ensure that your keep your anti-virus software, operating systems and other security measures up-to-date on your electronic devices.

Deputy Head of Action Fraud, Steve Proffitt said: “It is very important that anyone who is doing any last minute online Christmas shopping still remains careful and protects themselves from criminals who will be looking to take advantage of those people who are in a rush to buy presents. If you’re in any doubt about the purchase you’re about to make, stop and question it before it is too late”. 

Find out more tips on how to avoid being a victim here.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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