South Yorkshire Police is warning online shoppers of the risks of purchase scams ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
A purchase scam, or online shopping fraud, is when criminals trick people into paying for goods or services that don’t exist. Purchase scams have continued to surge in recent months, as shoppers continue to buy from web based retailers in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, has revealed that 28,049 shoppers were conned out of their money when shopping online over the Christmas period last year – an increase of almost two thirds (61 per cent) when compared to the same period in the previous year.
Action Fraud has provided the following tips on how to spot a scam and protect yourself when searching or buying online.
Choosing where you shop: If you are making a purchase from a website or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first. Look online for reviews of the website or person you are buying from. If you are purchasing an item from an online marketplace, you can view the seller’s feedback history before going ahead with the purchase.
Payment method: Use a payment method that offers buyer protection, such as a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers will help you get your money back if the item is faulty or damaged, or if it never arrives.
Staying secure online: Use a strong, separate password for your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping. You should also enable two-factor authentication, where possible, which gives your online account additional protection by double checking that you really are the person you claim to be, when logging in. For further information about how to stay secure online, visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk.
Watch out for phishing emails or texts: Some of the emails or texts you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. If you are unsure, don't use the link and visit the website directly instead. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, you can report it by forwarding the email to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can report suspicious texts you have received by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad. You can report suspicious websites via the National Cyber Security Centre’s scam website reporting service.
For more advice on how to shop online safely this weekend, please click here.
If you think you have been a victim of a purchase scam, you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.police.uk.
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