North Yorkshire Police warn public to be vigilant against online scammers this Christmas
North Yorkshire Police is urging everyone to take care when shopping online this Christmas and protect themselves, and their money, from scammers.
Figures from Action Fraud show that nationally in Christmas 2019, 17,400 people reported falling victim to online shopping fraud with losses totalling £13.5m.
The Covid-19 pandemic has already resulted in a surge of shoppers turning to online retailers over the high street and with the festive season fast approaching, police are warning this presents a golden opportunity to scammers.
North Yorkshire Police Detective Inspector, Jon Hodgeon, explains: “Scammers are highly skilled at what they do and the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how quickly they can adapt their tactics to take advantage of the national situation.
"We’ve seen fake adverts for PPE, scam texts purporting to be from NHS Track and Trace and a number of fraudsters posting puppies for sale or properties for rent and taking payments, when in fact neither actually exist.
“Of reports made nationally last Christmas, the average amount of money lost by those who fell victim to online shopping scams was over £750 and we’re determined to help as many people protect themselves from these fraudsters as possible.
“The most important thing to remember when buying online is to think really carefully about every decision you make, check the website is secure, check reviews of the website and if anything doesn’t feel right then leave the site immediately. If you suspect you’ve been scammed, please call 101 to report this. Not only can we offer advice and support, but the more scams we are aware of, the more people we can protect. Don’t let scammers take your cash this Christmas.”
Advice to keep safe shopping online:
Check the website is secure: make sure the web address starts ‘https’, look for the padlock symbol in the web address bar and keep your device’s antivirus software up to date.
Use strong passwords: on all online accounts and use two factor authentication wherever possible.
Use legitimate retailers: If you’re buying expensive items, check the manufacturer’s website for a list of authorised distributors or sellers and if you see products advertised for much less than the RRP, they are more than likely a scam.
Pay with a credit card or via a secure payment provider: Most major credit card providers insure online purchases. Some other payment methods do provide good consumer protection, but they aren’t obliged to provide the same protection as a credit card provider so check their Terms and Conditions for exact details. Using a secure payment provider like Paypal means you don’t have to provide your card details to the retailer and this offers extra security.
Be vigilant for spoof or fake websites: Scammers are very talented at making websites that mimic legitimate retailers or organisations so check the web address for spelling errors and if anything doesn’t seem right, leave the site immediately.
Know your rights: Before purchasing, check the return policy. If the seller doesn’t have one, you should be suspicious. Knowing the policy will help you if the item isn’t delivered or arrives broken, even if the seller isn’t trying to scam you.
Trust your instincts: If something looks too good to be true, then unfortunately that is very likely to be the case and you should exercise extreme caution. Scammers capitalise on our desire to find a bargain so make sure they don’t draw you in with their false promises.
If you suspect you have been scammed then contact your bank or card provider immediately and report it to North Yorkshire Police on 101.