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Tis the season to wise-up to online fraudsters
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 03 December 2010 00:32

 

With the UK's busiest online shopping day ‘Mega Monday’ (6 December) fast approaching, the National Fraud Authority (NFA) and the UK’s Lead Force for fraud, City of London Police, are ringing-out the bells about the growing threat of online fraudsters.

With over half the UK adult population now shopping online, forecasters predict pre-Christmas web sales will peak at £23.2m between 12-1pm on ‘Mega Monday’. But police analysts advise this frenetic activity also raises the risk of buyers losing money to criminals.

Shoppers should be aware that behind some flashy websites, canny criminals are looking to cash-in on the December online spree. Anonymous fraudsters can set up legitimate-looking websites to sell either counterfeit goods or no goods at all.

According to figures compiled by the NFA’s Action Fraud and the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), there has been a 15 per cent increase in reports of online shopping and auction fraud since July.

The organisations are also warning people to take extra care when purchasing popular Christmas gifts online. Previous reports to Action Fraud and other agencies, suggest the following products are the top five to feature in online shopping and auction fraud:
 
1. Smart Phones
2. Digital Cameras
3. Designer goods including jewellery and branded boots
4. Laptops and notebooks
5. Video game systems.
 
Financial Fraud Action UK and CIFAS – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service are supporting the call for consumers to take basic steps online to protect themselves this Christmas.
 
To make sure your online shopping is safe and secure remember these top tips:

  • Use secure websites that you trust. Do your research before making a purchase. Check online forums for feedback
  • Do they have a real-world presence? Can you see their address and phone number? Is it a valid UK registered phone number?
  • Check the browser address changes from 'http' to 'https' to indicate you have a secure connection and look for a padlock or an unbroken key symbol on your web browser
  • If website prices for designer items, games and smart phones seem too good to be true, they probably are. Legitimate popular technology and designer items are rarely discounted
  • For further advice and to report fraud, log onto www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040
  • Textphone 0300 123 2050
  • Visit www.getsafeonline.org.uk for other tips on staying safe online. 

Det Ch Supt, Steve Head, Head of City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, said: “Fraudsters hide behind showy websites and never have to face their victims, but we have to pick up the pieces. This is a crime that ruins Christmas. These victims lose a lot of money, but perhaps more upsetting is that they don’t even have the gifts to give their family and friends.
 
“Christmas is a time of goodwill, but don’t show that generosity to the fraudsters. Do the checks and be secure.”

Dr Bernard Herdan, CEO, National Fraud Authority: “All that glitters is not always gold and - particularly at this time of year - too many people fall foul of fraudsters while rushing to buy Christmas presents online.  Like more than half of us now, I'm a huge fan of online shopping, but I always make sure I protect myself. The good news is it is really simple to stay safe online. 

"Please follow our easy tips.  They really could make all the difference to your happy Christmas.  And if you are unfortunate enough to get caught-out by a fraudster, report it to Action Fraud.  The experts there will take your report, provide you with comprehensive fraud prevention advice, and send the intelligence to the police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, so helping to identify, track and stop these criminals.”
 
Kate Beddington-Brown, Head of Communications at CIFAS, said: “At this time of year, most of us are spending more online than usual.  With all of the pressures surrounding us in the lead-up to the festive season, it is all too easy to overlook the security measures that we usually take for granted. Using the prevention tips above can help you have a much happier Christmas than you will do if you fall prey to an online fraudster.”
 
Visit Action Fraud for daily prevention tips in the run up to Christmas, join NFA’s Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

 

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