Cheshire police is advising the county’s residents how to stay safe online by following simple tips including making sure websites are genuine and sticking to authorised sites for purchases.
Risks associated with online shopping have increased in recent years with online retailing accounting for 21.5% of total retailing – exceeding 20% for the first time (Office of National Statistics, Dec 2018), leaving online consumers potentially at risk of fraud – and from Boxing Day into January those dangers are even greater as more and more people search out bargains in the sales and try out their new mobile devices
But, working with partner organisations such as Action Fraud and Get Safe Online, Cheshire Police is offering some easy-to-follow guidelines to stay safe during the sales.
Sergeant Chris Maddocks from the Force’s cyber strategy team said: “The popularity of online shopping continues to increase which means the risks have increased in line with this so it is really important to remain vigilant. Unfortunately it’s also a busy time for those people whose goodwill extends only to themselves, the online fraudsters.
“However, the safety tips listed will go a long way to keeping people safe online when shopping not only during the sales but at all times. Always think before you click the link – it’s so important to make sure websites are genuine before you give your credit or debit card details; you can do this by hovering the mouse over a link and checking the destination address, and always log out of the websites after you have completed a purchase.
” We’re also urging people to make sure they don’t transfer money to people or companies that haven’t been thoroughly checked out. It sounds like common sense, but by being vigilant and keeping these guidelines in mind, we can make sure we do all we can to stay safe online.”
THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK THE LINK – TOP TIPS FOR CYBER-SAFE SALES:
- Make sure you have a strong password. To create a strong password, simply choose three random words. Numbers, symbols and combinations of upper and lower case can be used if you feel you need to create a stronger password, or the account you are creating a password for requires more than just letters. There’s good password advice at www.getsafeonline.org/protecting
- Keep your operating system and web browsers up-to-date. Online criminals can quickly find vulnerable areas in software so manufacturers regularly release updates to protect against this. Not keeping your software up to date can result in serious issues which can affect your computer and your personal security.
- Ensure you have up to date security software such as anti-virus or anti-malware on your device before you go online.
- Is it a real website? Make sure the web address is spelt correctly as some fake sites change one or two letters in the hope that you won’t notice, then check the address starts with ‘https’ (‘s’ for secure) and that there’s a closed padlock in the address bar
- Payments – Don’t pay for anything by transferring money directly to people or companies you don’t know. The safest way to pay for anything online is by credit card
- Emails, posts, texts – Particularly watch out for emails or texts from parcel delivery firms telling you to open an attachment for a delivery note; you wouldn’t get this from a real delivery firm. Also treat emails, tests or posts that urge you to click on a link for any reason with caution
- Counterfeit goods – Copyright law contravention can be of poor quality, dangerous and cost the livelihoods of workers who make the authentic versions. Do all you can to make sure you buy authentic goods
- Always log out – Simply closing the page may not end the payment session
- Subscription traps – Read the small print before signing up for ‘free’ or ‘low-cost’ trial goods. You could find yourself signed up for big, hard-to-get-out-of monthly direct debits. Read trusted reviews and (again) read the small print
- Buying tickets – Always buy concert, event and entry tickets from official sources such as the box office, sports club or reputable fan ticket exchange site. This is the only way you will know that your tickets are real and not fake
- Booking a holiday or travel – Check that any holiday or travel you book online is genuine by researching it thoroughly. Look for independent reviews, and confirm travel agents/tour operators are genuine by checking for an ABTA/ATOL number
- If something seems too much of a bargain…it probably is! It could be poor quality, not as described or even non-existent.
For more information about online safety visit www.getsafeonline.org/
www.actionfraud.police.uk is the UK’s national fraud & cyber reporting centre where you can report, get advice and information.