Warwickshire Police has launched an online safety campaign to help people who buy Christmas presents on the internet.
This month around 50 per cent of people in the country are expected to use the internet to buy more than half of their Christmas presents, and so far this year 74 per cent of adults nationwide have bought goods or services online.
Warwickshire Police has launched the #Be Cyber Smart campaign today (Monday December 1) to raise awareness of internet-related crime and to give people the knowledge they need to protect themselves.
The first phase focuses on online shopping; urging people to carry out a few simple safety checks before parting with their cash.
DCI Sean Paley, from Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police specialist operations unit, said: “Every year there is a spike in financial loss as a result of cyber crime around the festive period due to an increase in people shopping online in the run up to Christmas.
“We do not want to put people off using the internet to buy their gifts - if used safely it is an excellent resource - but we do want them to take some simple but effective steps to help protect themselves against falling victim to online crime.
“Updating software and anti-virus systems can prevent people falling victim. It is really important to have the latest security software installed on computers.
“I would also urge people to apply the same logic when they are using the internet as they would do in the real world. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
For the launch of the #Be Cyber Smart campaign Warwickshire Police has joined forces with Get Safe Online to encourage people to follow Get Safe Online’s ‘12 Online Safety Tips Of Christmas’.
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “Shopping online can be a great convenience for Christmas shoppers but we also need to stay vigilant and take care with what we’re buying, who we’re buying from as well as how to pay for purchases.
“Sadly, year on year we hear about people thinking they have got the perfect Christmas gift for someone but they end up disappointed because they didn’t recognise the most common scams out there.
“We are urging online shoppers to take a step back and think before they buy – always question if it is too good to be true, do your due diligence to check the authenticity of the site or product and make sure you use secure and protected methods of payment.”
The 12 Online Safety Tips Of Christmas:
1. Don’t Transfer Money - Always pay for items you buy online by card on a secure payment page, by cheque or by cash, in person. However desperate you are to secure an item, never transfer money into the seller’s account, as you may never see the goods or your money ever again.
2. Check that Payment Pages are Secure - Before you enter your card details on a payment page, make sure it is secure by checking that the address starts with ‘https’ (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’) and there’s a padlock or unbroken key symbol in the browser window.
3. Use a Credit Card - Still talking about payments, remember that you have more chance of getting your money
back in the event of problems if you pay by credit card rather than debit card. Some sellers may charge a premium, but it could well be worth the extra for your peace of mind.
4. Use Auction Sites Safely - At Christmas time many of us buy from online auction sites. Always use trusted and well-known payment methods instead of paying sellers directly. Read the site and seller’s conditions. And for your personal safety if you’re collecting in person, take someone with you or let people know where you’re going.
5. Check Out Bargains With Care - If you find or are emailed about an item that seems just too much of a bargain, it could be a scam, fake goods or it doesn’t match the description. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
6. Use Social Networks Safely - Social networks are a popular medium for scams – and are becoming increasingly so. If you see a post promising something free of charge, free entry to a Christmas competition with a fantastic prize or perhaps an offer that seems just too good to be true, consider very carefully before following it up.
7. Use Email Safely - An email urging you to click on a link to reveal a special offer, to open an attachment
containing some great news, or to “confirm details” or “reset your account”, could well be a scam, even if it appears to come from a reputable source. If in doubt, delete the email and don’t respond to or forward it.
8. Look After That New Smartphone or Tablet - If you’re buying or get bought a new smartphone or tablet, protect it by downloading a reputable internet security app, and make sure it’s safeguarded with a PIN. Install parental control software on kids’ mobile devices, and chat to them about how to use the internet safely.
9. Remember To Log Out - When you’ve finished your online shopping or banking session, always log out of the website or app… it only takes a second. Sometimes, just closing the window doesn’t mean you’ve logged out, and someone else could gain access to your account and personal details. Don’t forget to check and save purchase confirmation emails.
10. Make Sure Wifi Is Secure - At home or other premises you know, make sure the Wi-Fi is secured. When you’re out and about – in the café, the pub or a hotel for example – you can’t guarantee it’s secured even if you have to enter a code. When you’re shopping, banking or making other online payments, it’s better to connect with 3G or 4G, even if it’s slower.
11. Beware of Scam Phone Calls - If someone posing as a retailer calls you to confirm an online purchase, it could well be a scam. The idea is that you won’t remember the purchase, and call your bank. However, the fraudster stays on the line, and tricks you into revealing your financial details. If this happens, hang up, don’t call back, but report it to Action Fraud.
12. Check Bank Statements - Check your bank and credit card accounts regularly for irregular or unauthorised transactions. If you spot any entries you don’t recognise, contact your bank without delay. Make sure your bank has your up-to-date contact details so they can alert you if they spot anything unusual.