Shoppers are gearing up for a busy “Black Friday” – but Essex Police is warning people to beware of scams.
The force says fraudsters specialise in using the event – as well as Cyber Monday – to launch campaigns on social media and via email.
They invite people to visit fake websites and enter bank details – which can lead to money being drained from accounts within minutes.
A spokesperson says look for the padlock symbol on browser address bars for peace of mind – and if in any doubt don’t hand over information.
Full advice includes:
– Remembering to use sites with http”s” at the start of the URL. The ‘s’ stands for secure;
– Make sure the green padlock is on the left of the browser, if not, this could mean you are on a fraudulent site;
– Always use credit cards to pay for online items, they offer consumers protection if things go wrong with a purchase;
– Beware of phishing messages that claim to be from trusted organisation such as your bank or HMRC or familiar retailers but are set up to dupe consumers into revealing personal details;
– Avoid shopping on public wi-fi, or hotspots. Fraudsters can hack into the network and access user details. If you’re shopping online use your own 3G/4G network or a VPN, or just wait until you get home;
– If something is cheaper, this could be a scam it could be of poor quality, fake or just non-existent;
– Use methods like PayPal when buying on auction sites;
– Consumers must be extra vigilant and think twice before clicking on the link in any unsolicited messages, as these may take you to fraudulent websites;
– Never click on unsolicited emails or text messages. Criminals can make them look like they come from a legitimate business or organisation. Always navigate to the main website via your browser.