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POLICE GIVE SAFE SHOPPING ADVICE AHEAD OF BLACK FRIDAY

Many of us have been shopping online throughout the year, given the restrictions on going into shops, and in the midst of lockdown it is expected that Black Friday (27 November) and Cyber Monday (30 November) will see more online shoppers than ever flock to the online sales for bargains. These days are also the most opportune time for online fraudsters.

Action Fraud has reported that, during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale events last year (25 November 2019 – 8 December 2019), over £3 million was lost to criminals. 

It is an active time for scams such as realistic-looking phishing emails, posts that advertise offers that are too good to be true, fraudulent shopping websites and fake goods, all of which are concerns that shoppers need to be aware of. Cheshire Police has simple advice to help keep people safe online:

  • Bargain hunters can keep themselves safe online by making sure shopping websites are authentic and the payment page is secure. They can do this by checking that all addresses starts with https (the s is for secure). There should also be a padlock in the address bar, and it's important to also make sure that the website address you have typed in has been entered correctly and is showing the correct address in the address bar.

  • Don’t pay for anything by transferring money directly to people or companies you don’t know, however desperate you are to buy. The safest way to pay for anything online is by credit card.

  • Always log out when you have finished your payment. Simply closing the page may not end your session.

Detective Constable Tracy Earley is an officer on the Cyber team for Cheshire Police. She said: “If something seems too much of a bargain this Black Friday, or on Cyber Monday where deals only apply online, then it probably is. Follow your instincts and don’t make any rush purchases. Fraudsters see these events as an opportunity to take advantage of people and don’t care about the consequences their actions may cause for the victim.

“Creating strong passwords for yourself and always updating anti-virus software are the two easiest ways to keep you safe, but also using secure Wi-Fi networks when making payments and buying from official sites will help keep people safe from fraudsters, or using your 3G 4G 5G Data or secure home WI-FI. You should also enable two-factor authentication (2FA), where possible, which gives your online account additional protection by double checking that you really are the person you claim to be, when logging in.”

David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, added: “With online crime accounting for over half of all crimes committed each day, it is important for people to follow expert guidance to keep them safe online. As most of us increase our use of technology, this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the criminal fraternity who continue to adapt how they operate so they can use this lucrative accessibility to prey on vulnerable members of society. I would urge all Cheshire residents to review their online footprint to ensure they are as secure as possible.”

The Force’s cyber team has created the 5Cs guide to online safety, five simple steps to improve online safety and security, which can be found on the Constabulary website at https://www.cheshire.police.uk/police-forces/cheshire-constabulary/areas/cheshire/campaigns/campaigns/2019/five-cs/

Shoppers can also get free expert advice from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) at https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/

Figures from the Office for National Statistics and Action Fraud show that:

  • In 2020, to date almost 90 per cent of all adults use the internet daily or almost every day in 2019.
  • In 2020, to date almost 88 per cent of users have shopped online, with March – when the UK went into lockdown one - recording the highest level of internet shopping at 22.3 per cent  
  • During Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019, shoppers reported buying mobile phones (15 per cent), vehicles (9 per cent) and electronics (8 per cent) on sites such as Facebook, eBay and Gumtree, only to have the items never arrive. Over half of victims were male (55 per cent) aged 20 to 29 (19 per cent)

Pictured - Cheshire Police 5Cs Guide to Online Safety.

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