Shoppers are preparing to take to the internet and shops in search of a bargain during the discount days tomorrow (Friday) and Monday.
According to figures released last month by national internet security awareness organisation Get Safe Online (GSO) and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), £10.9 billion was lost to fraud, including cyber crime, in the UK last year - equating to around £210 per person over the age of 16.
During the festive season, there is around a 40 per cent increase in financial loss to individuals and businesses as a result of online fraud according to Get Safe Online.
Now Thames Valley Police is issuing advice as part of its ongoing work to raise awareness about cyber crime. In September, the Force ran a month-long #ProtectYourWorld - stay safe online campaign to encourage people to take steps to protect themselves from becoming victims of online crime.
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Det Supt Nick John, Thames Valley Police’s Head of Serious and Organised Crime, said: “Events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide an opportunity for criminals to target victims, who may have their guards down. Shoppers should be vigilant and take precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to online fraud or theft - always remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Top security advice when shopping online:
* Trust your instincts - if an offer does not seem genuine, do not take the risk.
* Stick to trusted websites - look for a green padlock symbol in the web address bar and ‘https’ instead of ‘http’. Fake websites are a way of gaining access to your bank details so make sure online retailers are genuine before making a purchase.
* Make sure you have strong passwords and use a different password for each website/account you use.
* Be wary of clicking on links in emails that could take you to a scam website.
* If are using a public WiFi connection, avoid entering your personal or payment details to make an online purchase.
* Keep electronic records of your purchases and check your bank statements for any unauthorised transactions.
* Make sure that you have installed the most recent version of your operating system (for example, Windows) and that you have up-to-date anti-virus and firewall software installed.
* Think about using a credit card or PayPal to pay for your transactions to offer added security and only use payment methods offered by the website, rather than bank transfers.
* Use payment verifications such as ‘Verified by Visa’.
When shopping out and about:
* Be aware that roads around shopping centres and car parks are likely to be busier than usual. Allocate extra time for your journey if required.
* Do not leave purchases on display in your vehicle when parked.
* Ensure that if you are carrying a bag it is closed and the zip/opening is close to your body.
* Do not leave your bag on a shopping trolley or buggy.
* Be aware of distraction techniques that offenders may use to move your attention away from your belongings.
* Shield your PIN from other customers nearby when withdrawing money or paying for items.
If you think you have been a victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (where you have lost money) please report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting the Action Fraud website.
For general advice on how to stay safe online see the Get Safe Online website.