LANCASHIRE Constabulary is running The 12 online frauds of Christmas campaign to protect thousands of people across the county from falling victim to cyber-fraudsters.
Kicking-off on Black Friday (28 November 2014), which marks the start of the busiest four days of internet shopping of the year, the force will be doing all it can to raise awareness of a dozen online frauds that have the potential to ruin peoples festive fun.
Working in partnership with the City of London Police, which is the National Policing Lead for Fraud, Lancashire Constabulary will be looking at the dos and donts of online shopping.
So far in 2014, 74% of all adults nationwide have bought goods or services online, and this December around 50% of UK citizens are expected to use the internet to buy more than half of their Christmas presents.
The majority of people will still have presents delivered to their doorstep or into their email account without a hitch.
However, the reality is there will also be tens of thousands of people across the UK whose Christmas will be damaged, and in some cases destroyed, after finding out they have fallen foul of heartless criminals who specialise in tricking internet users with the promise of great online deals and big cash savings.
Following Black Friday, the focus will be on Cyber Monday (1 December 2014) and the hazards of opening Christmas e-Cards sent via email which, unknown to the recipient, may be carrying a virus (malware) that can embed itself and then corrupt their smart phone, tablet or laptop.
Over the following two weeks, Lancashire Constabulary, along with other forces and organistaions, will look at the threat of ten more online festive frauds, identified by the City of London Polices National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).
Throughout The 12 online frauds of Christmas campaign officers will be talking to local people and sharing top safety tips via traditional and social media. More internet safety advice can also be found at www.getsafeonline.org and www.cyberstreetwise.com
Lancashire Constabulary Superintendent Lee Halstead, head of cyber crime, said: So many people will be doing their shopping online this Christmas and we want to make sure they dont fall victim to cyber-fraudsters and their scams. People need to understand the threat of cyber-crime and what they can do to stop themselves becoming a victim.
Over the next few weeks well be posting loads of tips on our social media channels on how to stay safe and we would urge people to follow us and take the advice on board.
If anyone falls victim to one of the dozen festive frauds, or any other type of cyber-fraud, they are encouraged to report it to Action Fraud the City of London Police-based national reporting centre - on 0300 123 040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk .
If we have the evidence to take direct action, then we will move swiftly to disrupt and shut down online criminal activity and identify and find those responsible.
City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who is the National Police Economic Crime Coordinator and overseeing The 12 frauds of Christmas campaign, said: Easy access to the internet has revolutionised the way we shop and pay for Christmas gifts and festive breaks, and how we go about searching for a New Year romance. Unfortunately it has also made us vulnerable to crooks that specialise in creating online cons that lure people in with the promise of cheap deals and stress-free purchasing, or that corrupt our smartphones, tablets and lap tops with computer viruses.
The key to staying safe this December, and throughout 2015, is to understand the nature of the threat we face and to have easy access to information that will keep us out of the clutches of cyber-fraudsters.
This is why we have created the The 12 online frauds of Christmas and set-up a unique law enforcement and public and private sector partnership that I believe can deliver the campaigns key information and safety tips to millions of people who will be using the internet over the next few weeks in search for the best possible gifts and the most stress free festive period.
Tony Neate, CEO, Get Safe Online, said: Every year theres a mad rush as shoppers get online to order presents in time for Christmas, starting with Black Friday. Shopping online can be a great convenience for Christmas shoppers but we also need to stay vigilant and take care with what were buying, who were buying from as well as how to pay for purchases.
Sadly, year on year we hear about people thinking they have got the perfect Christmas gift for someone but they end up disappointed because they didnt recognise the most common scams out there.
We are urging online shoppers to take a step back and think before they buy always question if it is too good to be true, do your due diligence to check the authenticity of the site or product and make sure you use secure and protected methods of payment.
You can follow Lancashire Constabulary at facebook.com/lancspolice or twitter.com/lancspolice.
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