The 12 online frauds of Christmas
In the countdown to Christmas millions of people living across the UK will go online to buy presents for friends and family, search for holidays, book tickets for a big gig or send an electronic Christmas card.
What many do not realise is the hidden threat we now face from criminals online. They are targeting internet shoppers with scams which, on the surface promise to save them time and money, but in reality only deliver festive heartache and misery.
Tens of thousands of people sadly fell victim to an online fraud in the weeks leading up to last Christmas and even more are at risk of suffering the same fate this year – being left hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of pounds out of pocket with no presents to give on the big day and their electronic devices corrupted with a computer virus.
To make life as difficult as possible for the cyber fraudsters, Merseyside Police is working with the City of London Police (the National Policing Lead for Fraud) supported by Get Safe Online, The Home Office, Crime Stoppers and National Trading Standards on ‘The 12 online frauds of Christmas’ campaign. Together, we are raising awareness of the major
internet threats and providing top tips on how to surf and shop safely, which will help ensure everyone gets to enjoy a very merry Christmas.
And if you do unfortunately fall victim to an online fraud, please report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
For more online crime prevention advice go to www.getsafeonline.org or www.cyberstreetwise.com
The internet has become part of life for many of us and we think little of using it to buy things, sort out our bank account or chat with friends.
It's important to remember that using the internet can expose us to a number of hidden dangers and it's important to understand how you can be affected.
You can reduce internet risks by following these suggestions:
- Increase the security settings on your web browser
- Download any updates for your web browser as they may include security updates
- Review all of your bank statements thoroughly to ensure that your account has not been accessed and exploited without your knowledge
- Never enter your pin number for your debit or credit card on the Internet as this will never be required.
- Protecting Yourself on Social Media – View the Presentation or the PDF version
- Always use strong password incorporating numbers, symbols, upper and lower case letters
- Don't use the same password for different sites and avoid the use of family or pets names
- Remember that not everybody on the internet is honest and if it seems too good to be true it most certainly is
O2 and the NSPCC have joined forced to help parents and families in the UK learn how to keep kids safe online.
They have launched a free helpline where you can get advice from experts on the following topics:
- Setting up parental controls on your computer or other devices
- Help adjusting privacy settings
- Understanding social networks
- Concerns about online gaming
- App advice
- Online bullying
- Strangers online
- Online addiction
- Paying for extras
- And much more
Call the O2/NSPCC helpline on 0800 800 5002 or for further information visit www.o2.co.uk/nspcc
- Make sure your business has adequate firewall, anti-virus and anti spy-ware protection
- Don't get pressurised or tricked into agreeing to any services e.g advertising you don't want or paying for products you haven't requested.
- Information you post online can be viewed by almost anyone - avoid publishing any personal information such as your full address, date of birth or current employment as this information can make you vulnerable to fraudsters
- Remember what goes online stays online. Don't say or publish anything that may cause you embarrassment later. There's no delete button
- By restricting access to your profile to just family and friends you significantly decrease becoming a victim of social engineering and possible identity theft
- Be aware of the risks associated with social networking sites such as on-line bullying and in extreme cases grooming and child abuse
- Social media platfroms are increasingly automatically showing the location where users are posting - check your privacy settings to disable this as burglars can make use of these techniques to determine when your home/business premises are empt
- The banks will never ask you to confirm your password and other log-on security details
- Beware of emails from financial institutions informing you there's a problem with your account no matter how authentic they appear. These emails request that you click on a link and enter your personal security information that then re-directs you to a bogus site that collects your security information
- If in doubt phone the bank using the phone number from a genuine piece of letter or phone directory
- Regularly check your balance and contact your bank if there are any unrecognised or suspicious withdrawals
- Shared bank statements and other information that contain your account number.
- The majority of people buying and selling on the internet are honest and do deliver and pay for goods it's is recommended that both parties take the necessary steps to ensure that satisfaction is achieved
- If it seems too good to be true it most probably is
- You are strongly advised not to use money transfers to pay for items bought on-line
- It's strongly advise to use a dedicated credit/debit card for all your on-line transactions
Using the internet on a mobile device
- While very convenient and user friendly it should be stressed that accessing the internet from a mobile device is not without risk
- It is strongly recommended that each devices security protocols are set to the highest level and use PIN codes to lock SIMS, keypads and voicemail, particularly when your mobile device contains amounts of personal data
- Caution should be employed when using public Wi-Fi hot spots i.e coffee shops, libraries etc as these areas are not secure and hence any transactions could be compromised
- Avoid downloading apps from non-official sites
- Be watchful of others looking at your screen
- Be aware that photos taken from many phones have embedded location information.
How to report?
- If you think a child or an adult is at immediate risk call 999
- If you suspect suscpicious behaviour online call 101
- If you want to report a crime anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
For more information, click here to visit Get Safe Online.