Don’t Get Conned Out of Christmas!

The festive season is nearly upon us, and its prime time for online criminals to kick it up a notch in their attempts to con you out of your christmas! So this year, we are supporting Get Safe Online and Action Fraud in their campaign to warn people that online crime is definitely coming to town.

Today (Monday 23rd November) the City of London Police, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online are launching a national fraud prevention campaign which will be supported by police forces across the country. The campaign we are supporting will help to protect you from unscrupulous online criminals.

Last christmas it snowed for the online criminals, as reports show both individuals and businesses lost £16,426,989 to online fraudsters through internet shopping. This was a worrying increase of 42% total financial loss compared with 2013, which means online festive fraud is growing at an alarming rate.

The most common time during the festive period to come into contact with criminals last year was black friday and cyber monday as shoppers trawled the web looking for the best festive deals, closely followed by the last few days running up to christmas as fraudsters exploit unwary shoppers trying to buy last minute presents. The most common items being bought and sold by victims and criminals were mobile phones, followed by footwear, clothing, gaming consoles, computers, furniture and other electricals.*

In addition to fraudulent sellers and websites, there are many other ways for criminals to get a shot at your hard earned christmas cash. One method is phishing, where fraudulent emails are sent in the run up to christmas in an attempt to get your details and steal your credentials. Phishing attacks can vary in complexity, from badly produced emails with typos, inaccurate details and obvious indicators, to well copied emails from organisations you recognise, with personalised names and accurate imagery.

Here are Bob’s top tips on phishing:

• Be wary of emails that ask you to update your security information.
• Never divulge your username or password to anyone.
• Don’t click on links in emails without checking the url.
• Always type the web address of trusted websites into the browser yourself.
• Be wary of grammatical errors or misspellings which are designed to fool spam filters.
• Make sure your spam filter is always switched on.
• Check the quality – Always check that the email looks legitimate; for example, unusual branding, bold emotive language or poor spelling.
• Should you be unlucky enough to fall victim to a phishing email, report it to the website being impersonated and/or the police immediately.
• If you receive an email and you are unable to work out whether or not it is a phishing email, report it to the website from whom it claims to be from before you take any action.
• Sense check! Follow your gut instinct; if something doesn’t feel right, it’s more than likely phishy!

Here are a few of Bob’s top tips to stay safe when shopping online this christmas:

• Check a website or seller is genuine before making a purchase- most criminals use fake details to avoid being caught.
• Reviews are a good way to verify the validity of a seller or item.
• If a deal seems too good to be true- it probably is.
• If you do think you have fallen victim to fraud, report the seller, and get in touch with Action Fraud (details at the bottom of this page).
• Be wary of offers in suspicious emails, which look too good to be true. For more information, see our phishing tips above.

If you want to learn more from Bob about the risks of phishing and how to protect yourself from this type of attack, we are offering a demo of our demo ‘Phishing’ module here .

Read more on the Get Safe Online website.

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

*Figures in the above refer to Online Shopping and Auction Fraud reports during the Christmas period. Information provided by Get Safe Online.

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