How to avoid the online scammers this Christmas

Alert message sent 25/11/2019 10:03:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police


This weekend will see Black Friday & Cyber Monday again… the year goes quick! Whether you like it or not they're here and consumers have the potential to get themselves a great bargain from online stores.

It’s also a time when online criminals are very active, knowing they can use the lure of a great deal to attract you to clicking on links, sending you to a fraudulent website, often being active for a few hours and then disappearing, or getting you to divulge personal information without thinking about it.

We want everyone to have a safe time while shopping online for any potential deals to be had. With that in mind, here are our top tips to staying safe online this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Shop websites that you’re familiar with to avoid the fraudulent ones – shopping on sites that you have used previously is a good starting point as you know they are safe. However, just as you normally would, check the website is the legitimate one by scrutinising the website address. Make sure it is spelt correctly and think how you got there, if you followed a link then double check it’s the correct site.
  • Don’t make purchases on public Wi-Fi – Many of us now use online shopping versus traditional means, but you should never use public Wi-Fi to do so. It’s an insecure network and your details could be easily intercepted. Use your data instead if you’re unable connect to a network that you know is secure.
  • Look for the padlock when you’re checking out! – Often shown as a green padlock in the address bar, this means that your data being transmitted is encrypted, that’s a good thing! Sometimes fraudulent sites will have a padlock on the main page, but when you come to the checkout process it disappears, meaning the payment information you use to pay can be seen and is likely to be stolen.
  • Be on the lookout for phishing emails – We always mention phishing emails, it’s the most common attack method of the cybercriminal and they will make the most of this opportunity to email you. Sometimes picking these out of genuine emails from retailers can be tricky, always look carefully at emails and avoid clicking on links. Go directly to the website and if the offer is genuine, it will be there. Also in the aftermath watch out for phishing emails suggesting there is a problem with your order! Again, login into your account directly and check.
  • Watch out for ‘offers’ posted on social media – Criminals use social media to post very enticing offers, however these offers don’t exist! They will likely either direct you to a site and steal your banking information, or direct you to a site that will compromise your device by installing malware. They will also try to impersonate well-known brands. Go directly, not through clicking on the post, to the brands website and check to see if the offer is genuine.
  • Secure your online accounts with a strong password – Whether you’re signing up to a new account or using existing ones a strong password is essential. Simple passwords can be compromised in seconds. Advice on how to create a strong password can be found on the National Cyber Security centres website here - https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/top-tips-for-staying-secure-online/use-a-strong-and-separate-password-for-email
Whatever your intentions with the upcoming days, take plenty of time and stop to think before you click! Having that time can keep you, your devices and your personal information safe.
If you think you have been the victim of cybercrime then report it. Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Message sent by
Katrina Fleet (Police, Communications Officer, Wiltshire)

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