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Online shopping advice to help you enjoy a Fraud Free Christmas

Have yourself a #FraudFreeXmas – that is the message from Northamptonshire Police ahead of this month’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which traditionally marks the start of the festive shopping season.

Officers from the Economic Crime Unit are joining colleagues from Action Fraud to raise awareness of online shopping scams and prevent people from wishing bogus sellers a Merry Christmas.

Latest figures from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime, revels that online shopping bargains which were “too good to be true” cost UK consumers £15.4 million over the festive period last year.

This resulted in more than 28,000 online shoppers being conned out of their hard-earned money which was an increase of almost two thirds (61 per cent) compared to the same period in 2019.

To coincide with the launch of Action Fraud’s 10-day campaign, officers from the Force’s fraud prevention team joined visitors at Beckworth Emporium and Rushden Lakes on Monday (November 22) to promote online safety advice.

The team were joined by colleagues from the Wellingborough and East Northants Neighbourhood Policing Teams, who were on hand to offer other crime prevention advice and listen to visitors’ policing concerns.

So far this year, more than 900 people in Northamptonshire have reported losses averaging £577 because of online shopping fraud. With fraudsters out to make as much money as possible over the festive period, officers are warning people to be extra vigilant.

Fraud Prevent Officer PC Neil MacKenzie knows only too well how relentless online criminals can be, and the impact their crimes can have on those who fall victim to their scams.

He said: “Fraudsters will stop at nothing. They give absolutely no thought as to whether you and your family are left without presents at Christmas time.

“More and more people are taking advantage of the ease and convenience of online shopping and it’s a great way to compare prices, find bargains and save money. But there are specific risks related to buying products and services online.

“In the first ten months of this year, we’ve seen 930 county residents lose money to online criminals, and with Christmas shopping and the seasonal sales in full swing, we’d like to share some advice to help people avoid the fraudsters.

“No-one wants to pay for a criminal’s Christmas so whether you’re after festive items or everyday bargains, please take a look at our handy guide to help make your online shopping experience safer and more secure all year round.”

Online Shopping Safety Guide

• Avoid clicking on sponsored links or adverts in search results
• Check the web address carefully to ensure you visit the genuine website
• Do not rely entirely on product or online store reviews as these could be faked
• Avoid social media posts offering vouchers, coupons and discounts unless verified
• Use a different strong password for each account
• A great way of making a strong password is by combining three random words
• Never share account passwords with anyone no matter who they claim to be
• Consider using a reputable password manager if you use multiple accounts
• Minimise the personal information you supply when setting-up a store account
• Use a credit card or trusted payment provider when making an online purchase
• Never accept requests to pay by bank transfer, vouchers, or PayPal Friends & Family
• Always remember to sign out of your online shopping accounts
• Close old or dormant online accounts that you no longer use

For further advice, visit www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/shopping-online-securely.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

Report fraud and cybercrime to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Kelly Noble
(Police, Social Media Engagement Officer - Corporate Communication , Northamptonshire Police)

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