Online shoppers in North Yorkshire and York are being reminded to stay safe as one of the biggest shopping days of the year approaches.
‘Black Friday’ is a large shopping event that originated in the United States, and takes place on the day after Thanksgiving – Friday 29 November this year.
Based on previous fraud data, it is likely that there will be an increase in online shopping and auction fraud in the run up to Christmas, particularly around Black Friday and ‘Cyber Monday’, which follows on 2 December.
Due to the significant numbers of people searching online for a good deal, fraudsters will be particularly looking to target victims. Products typically involved in online fraud are electronics, clothing and tickets for flights and events.
Common complaints involve buyers receiving goods late, or not at all, or receiving goods that are either less valuable than those advertised or significantly different from the original description.
Andy Fox, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer at North Yorkshire Police, said: “If you are a victim of shopping or auction fraud, the most immediate problem is that you have no real prospect of returning the goods or having your money refunded.
“After this, there is a risk that your identity details could be compromised. Fraudsters could steal your identity and use it to access your personal finances or obtain goods or finance from alternative sources.
That’s why it’s so important to take steps to protect yourself when you’re shopping online.”
To protect yourself online:
- Make sure you’ve installed the latest software and app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details.
- Use a strong, separate password for your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.
- Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text. The volume of online shopping related phishing emails increases significantly during the Christmas period. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Beware of fake goods. Be suspicious if the goods you are purchasing seem ridiculously cheap, especially if the website is located outside the UK.
- Don’t 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 become a victim of fraud. Using a service such as PayPal offers a degree of protection against fraud.
- For fraud crime prevention advice on social media, you can visit the North Yorkshire Police Fraud Awareness page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/North-Yorkshire-Police-Fraud-Awareness-501398623600896/ – or go to the North Yorkshire Police website https://northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/fraud/
If you do fall victim to fraud, follow these steps:
- If the seller has misrepresented the goods you’ve bought, report the fraud to Action Fraud online, or by phone on 0300 123 2040.
- Keep all evidence of the offence, including goods and correspondence.
- If there is a business dispute over the nature of the transaction, contact the website involved. Or, you can alert the Citizens Advice consumer service by phone on 08454 04 05 06.