12 fraud tips: Don’t get caught out in the post-Christmas sales

The latest report by Action Fraud showing that fraudsters conned 15,024 shoppers out of more than £11 million over the Christmas period last year.

Cyber criminals know that our guard is a little lower as we rush to bag the bargains so, with post-Christmas sales upon us, the Counter Fraud team wanted to share some tips to help you stay safe and avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

1. Don’t pay for anything by transferring money directly to people or companies you don’t know, however desperate you are to buy. If it’s a fraud, it’s doubtful the bank will be able to recover or refund your money. The safest way to pay for anything is by debit or credit card.

2. Make sure shopping websites are authentic by carefully checking the address is spelled correctly. Fraudsters can set up convincing websites with very similar spelling to the authentic one. Don’t access websites through link in unsolicited emails or texts.

3. When you’ve finished paying log out of your account. Simply closing the page may not do this automatically.

4. Buy real and avoid fake. Counterfeit goods are of inferior quality, can be dangerous and contravene copyright law, costing the livelihoods of workers who make the real thing. Don’t buy fakes intentionally or get duped into buying them, however cheap or ‘authentic’.

5. Beware of ‘free’ or ‘low-cost’ trials – whether slimming pills or the latest tech – without thoroughly reading the small print and trusted reviews. You could be signing up for large monthly direct debits which are difficult to cancel.

6. Check that a holiday or travel you book online is genuine by researching it thoroughly. Look for independent reviews, and make sure travel agents/tour operators are genuine by checking for an ABTA/ATOL number.

7. Buy concert, event, fixture or entry tickets from official sources such as box offices, sports clubs, or reputable fan ticket exchange sites. If you don’t, you could be paying for fake or non-existent tickets.

8. Watch out for unexpected emails, texts or posts urging you to click on a link or attachment.

9. Is it too good to be true? If something seems too much of a bargain, think twice about whether it is genuine, safe or actually exists.

10. Make sure you’ve installed the latest software and app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack our devices and steal information, such as your payment details.

11. Use a strong, separate password for your accounts.

12. Don’t overshare on social media. Research produced by Get Safe Online shows that 21 people are targeted every minute as a result of unwittingly “oversharing” on social media.

Enjoy bagging a bargain in the post-Christmas sales and remember to stay safe when shopping online.