Online shoppers are being urged to take precautions when buying presents from the web this Christmas.
Tips on how to protect yourself while internet shopping are being given out ahead of the UK’s busiest on-line shopping day – ‘Mega Monday’ on 6th December.
The increased web activity is often a boost for local businesses but can also raise the risk of buyers losing money to criminals and each year, shoppers fall prey to legitimate looking websites which actually sell counterfeit goods - or no goods at all.
Previous reports to Action Fraud (www.actionfraud.org.uk) and other agencies suggest smart phones, digital cameras, designer goods (including jewellery and branded boots), laptops and PC notebooks and video game systems are the goods most likely to feature in online shopping and auction fraud:
“There can be a lot of disappointment on Christmas Day when goods bought in good faith from bogus websites turn out to be fake and shoddy – or perhaps they won’t turn up at all," notes DC Tony McClements of Lancashire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit. "However, there are a number of steps that on-line shoppers can take so that they don’t fall victim to the festive fraudsters and ensure that they and their families have a Merry 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 – ie do they have a shop on a high street or a warehouse in the UK? 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.