POLICE have issued security advice as tomorrow's Black Friday tomorrow and next week's Cyber Monday loom into view.
So called Black Friday (27/11) and Cyber Monday (30/11), will see thousands of seasonal shoppers taking to the internet and stores, in search of a bargain.
Research by national internet security awareness organisation, Get Safe Online (GSO), shows a 42 per cent increase in financial loss to individuals and businesses, as a result of online fraud during the festive season last year (up from £9.5m in 2013 to just under £16.5m in 2014), according to Thames Valley Police (TVP).
According to GSO, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were key dates for online fraudsters to make initial contact with victims.
Det Ch Supt Ray Howard, of Thames Valley Police’s Force Intelligence and Specialist Operations, said: “When it comes to online crime, an event like Black Friday or Cyber Monday presents an opportunity for criminals to target victims who may have their guards down.
Shoppers are advised to remain vigilant and take precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to online fraud or theft, whether it’s this weekend or in the run-up to Christmas.”
When shopping online:
Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to be a true, then it probably is.
Stick to trusted websites – look for a green padlock symbol in the web address bar and ‘https’ instead of ‘http’. Fake websites are a way of gaining access to bank details, so make sure online retailers are genuine before making a purchase.
Be wary of clicking on links in emails that could take you to a scam website.
If using a public WiFi connection, avoid entering your personal or payment details to make an online purchase.
Keep electronic records of your purchases and check your bank statements for any unauthorised transactions.
Make sure that you have installed the most recent version of your operating system (e.g. Windows) and that you have up-to-date anti-virus and firewall software installed.
Think about using a credit card or PayPal to pay for your transactions to offer added security and only use payment methods offered by the website, rather than bank transfers.
Use payment verifications such as ‘Verified by Visa’.
When shopping out and about:
Roads around shopping centres and car parks are likely to be busier than usual. Allocate extra time for journeys.
Do not leave purchases on display in a vehicle when parked.
Ensure bags are closed and the zip/opening is close to the body.
Do not leave bags on a shopping trolley, or buggy.
Be aware of distraction techniques that offenders may use to move attention away from belongings.
Shield PINs from other customers nearby when withdrawing money , or paying for items.
Anyone victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (involving lost money) should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, by calling 0300 123 20 40 or online via the Action Fraud website .
For general advice on how to stay safe online visit the Get Safe Online website.