Torbay and Devon shoppers a like have been warned to take extra care when shopping for gifts online as fraudsters prepare for the festive period.

A lot of the fraudsters are very clever at what they do and usually trick consumers with the promise of great savings and deals.

Action Fraud has released a report that shows that fraudsters conned 15,024 UK shoppers out of more than £11 million last Christmas.

Consumers most likely to get conned are being defrauded via popular social media websites and online auctions sites.

Common Fraudulent items

At the top of the buy list was, once again, mobile phones.  Victims found that they had been brought in by a bargain deal on some of the most popular handsets, only for the actual phone to never arrive and leaving them without a present for Christmas Day.

Of all of the mobile phones sales reported as a con, it was the Apple iPhone which counted for 74% of all mobile phones purchased that turned out to be fraudulent.

Next, and no surprising, gaming consoles, electrical items, computers, household items, clothing and accessories also featured in many of the reports.

A classic example were items including Fingerling toys, UGG Boots and Apple MacBooks among the most popular items victims reported losing money to fraudsters on.

In 2017, more than 30% of fraud reports were made by women aged between 20 to 29, however, anyone can fall victim to a Christmas shopping fraudster during the festive period.

This year Action Fraud and the City of London Police are urging all shoppers to stay vigilant and look for the warning signs ,that a mean offer might just be too good to be true.

To keep yourself as safe as possible, try these 5 tips to avoid being scammed this Christmas.

5 Tips to avoid being scammed this Christmas

  1. If something, genuinely seems too much of a bargain, its probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t exist
  2. Never pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you’re victim of fraud.
  3. Make sure you’ve installed the latest software and app updates before shopping.  Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details.
  4. Use a strong, separate password and 2FA* to protect your email account.  Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.
  5. Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text.  The volume of online shopping related phishing emails increases during the holiday period.  Remember if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online commented:

“Christmas can be a really busy and often stressful time, so it can be easy to rush into making a quick purchase online to secure a must have gift or bargain without taking the time to check that everything is as it seems.

But, taking a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself with a few simple online safety tips can be the difference between getting all your shopping done in time and becoming a victim of online fraud.

Really simple steps such a paying via a credit card over a bank transfer or only using reputable shopping sites can make a big difference towards protecting yourself online this Christmas.”

If you have been a victim of fraud, don’t take it, report it online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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