City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has launched a new campaign with the warning that ‘there’s more at stake when it’s a fake’.
The campaign highlights the many consequences of buying counterfeit goods online, including identity crime. When buying items, people will part with personal details such as their address and financial information which allows fraudsters to set-up new websites selling counterfeit goods in their name.
Action Fraud has received over 15,000 reports linked to identity crime in the last year (April 2016 – March 2017) which shows the extent of the growing problem. In addition 400 victims have been contacted by PIPCU in the last two years to inform them that their identity is believed to have been stolen and open websites in their name after they had previously purchased counterfeit items online.
How to prevent identity theft with safe shopping
Trust your instincts. If an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Legitimate designer items are rarely discounted, so do not rush and be fooled into believing you are getting a good deal.
Check the website. The spelling and grammar on the website and of the URL will look suspicious, as often the people behind these sites will try to deceive you by slightly changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address.
Look to see where the trader is based and whether they provide a postal address – just because the web address has ‘uk’ do not assume the seller is based in the UK. If there is no address supplied or there is just a PO Box or email, be wary.
Only deal with reputable sellers and only use sites you know or ones that have been recommended to you. If you have not bought from the seller before, do your research and check online reviews. People will often turn to forums and blogs to warn others of fake sites.
Ensure the website address begins ‘https’ at the payment stage – this indicates a secure payment.
Keep security software and firewalls up-to-date.
Ask the trader if there is a returns policy or guarantee. Most rogue traders will not offer this.
Watch out for pop-ups appearing asking you to confirm your card details before you are on the payment stage. Never enter your PIN online.