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Bedfordshire consumers warned ahead of online shopping rush

23 Nov 2017

We are supporting the Action Fraud Christmas campaign and warning shoppers to be careful when making purchases online, ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Reports of Christmas shopping fraud rose by a quarter in 2016, as more people were defrauded on online auction sites.

City of London Police, who run Action Fraud, have launched an awareness campaign to help prevent people becoming victims of shopping and auction fraud. 

New figures show that victims reported losing nearly £16 million to Christmas shopping fraudsters in 2016, increasing from £10 million lost the year before. Reports to Action Fraud increased by 25 per cent when comparing the Christmas period in 2016 with the same period in 2015. Analysis of last year’s crimes also shows that 65 per cent of crimes at Christmas were linked to online auctions sites, with the average loss for these reports coming in at £727.

Common items victims reported losing out to fraudsters on included; Yeezy trainers, Kylie Jenner make-up, air dryers, drones and Fitbits.

Mobiles phones continue to be the most likely thing that people try to buy from fraudsters, with clothing and accessories second on the list and footwear shooting up from sixth to third place. Watches have also over taken jewellery and are now more commonly offered by fraudsters.

Although it is possible for anyone to fall victim to Christmas shopping fraudsters, last year over 13 percent of reports were made by men aged 20-29.

Cyber security advisor for Bedfordshire Police, Sean O’Neil, is urging consumers to stay vigilant online ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. He said: “Lots of people will be making the most of the online deals this weekend, but we would urge you to slow down when you are buying something in order to check whether it is a legitimate deal, and consider who you are purchasing from.

“We’d also recommend following the advice from Action Fraud which includes using methods such as Pay Pal rather than transferring money to people you don’t know, and check that your Wi-Fi network is secure before making any financial transactions.”

Follow these tips from Action Fraud:

  • 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
  • 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 you keep your anti-virus software, operating systems and other security measures are up-to-date on your electronic devices
  • Never click on unsolicited emails or text messages. Criminals can use the technology to make emails or texts look like they come from a legitimate business or organisation
  • Create strong passwords that are unique for each account you have. A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words.

You can also follow this year’s campaign on social media using #ThoughtThatCounts and by following @BedsPolCyberProtect on Twitter

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