At this bargain-mania time of year, there comes with it a heightened level of risk when shopping online and making internet bookings for things such as holidays and concerts.
Criminals look to take advantage of people of all ages who are conducting financial transactions online.
It is also known that fraudsters prey on individuals who have made New Year’s resolutions to find love using dating websites.
There are also a whole host of dastardly telephone scams doing the rounds with the sole aim of extracting your cash by whatever means necessary, including making sickening threats to vulnerable and elderly people.
North Yorkshire Police want to provide you with advice, so you can take steps to try and prevent yourself falling victim to fraudsters.
Please read the following top tips to help you fight fraud, and for more information go to the North Yorkshire Police website www.northyorkshire.police.uk/fraud
1) Whether it’s at the online checkout, trades people at your door or a letter or phone call you have received, it’s always vital to check the legitimacy of the company or the individual you are dealing with. Don’t ever be afraid to ask question and to get them to prove their credentials. If they are genuine they will provide the necessary identification and information. If you are not satisfied it’s best to report your concerns to the police.
2) Crucially, always keep at the forefront of your mind not to give away your personal information no matter what. This includes your name, home address, bank details, email address or phone number.
3) Many frauds start with a phishing email. Remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you an email asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Do not trust such emails, even if they look genuine. You can always call your bank using the phone number on a genuine piece of correspondence, website (typed directly into the address bar) or the phone book to check if you’re not sure.
4) Please make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. Ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security notification and monitoring to prevent malware issues and computer crimes.
5) Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always question it.
6) Always shield your PIN and be vigilant at cash machines and checkouts. Don’t ever send it over the internet or disclose it to anyone. Your bank or the police will never phone or email you to ask you to disclose it.
7) Shop only on secure websites. Before submitting card details, look for a padlock or an unbroken key symbol on your web browser. Also check that the internet browser address changes from ‘http’ to https’ to indicate you have a secure connection.
8) When you are talking to people on social media, chat rooms or dating sites, make sure you know who it is you are talking to and never ever pass on personal or financial information to them online.
9) Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever you are given the option while shopping online. This involves you registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to online transactions with signed-up retailers.
10) Check receipts against bank statements regularly. If you find an unfamiliar transaction contact your bank or card company immediately.
11) Shred or completely destroy all documents which contain personal details and don’t keep such documents in your car or handbag.
12) When buying tickets online, check with the venue to find out when they are being released and sent out. Also check that you know the geographic address of the website company and that they have a working landline phone number. Make sure there is a refund policy in case something goes wrong.
13) When dealing with trades people never hand over a cash deposit. Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home and don’t agree to a trader starting any work straight away. Take time to consult with someone you trust for a second opinion, and speak to friends, family or neighbours before making any decision.
14) Don’t be rushed into making a decision you are not comfortable with. Fraudsters use pressure to force you to make an unwise decision. This could be by saying it is a limited time offer or that money is needed due to an emergency. Be confident to tell people that you require time to think over a decision and then discuss it with people you trust.
15) Get up-to-date. Many national media outlets often broadcast fraud trends and information and advice. Check out BBC Radio 4’s “You and Yours” consumer affairs and Finance programmes. The Guardian and Telegraph online Finance and Technology sections are also very useful sources of information surrounding fraud.
16) Scammers are quick to identify new ways of conning people out of their money. You must report all incidents of fraud to Action Fraud UK and not to the police. Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
More advice on how to protect yourself and your family from fraudsters can be found by visiting northyorkshire.police.uk/fraud