Shop safely and beat ‘The 12 online frauds of Christmas’ this December

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The festive season is a peak time for cyber-fraud so West Yorkshire Police is highlighting ‘The 12 online frauds of Christmas’ to protect people from internet crime.

Last Christmas, between November 2013 and the end of February 2014, there were 485 reports of online shopping and auction fraud in West Yorkshire; netting criminals a total of £279,974.50.

Kicking-off on Black Friday - which marks the start of the busiest four days of internet shopping of the year - the Force is taking part in a national campaign to raise awareness of a dozen online frauds that can cause misery and stress for communities this Christmas.

Most people will have presents delivered to their doorstep without a hitch but many people will fall foul of heartless criminals who specialise in tricking internet users with the false promise of great online deals and big cash savings.

Over 12 working days from this Friday they will be flagging up the following online crimes:

Nov 28: Online shopping fraud

Dec 1: Christmas e-cards

Dec 2: Auction fraud

Dec 3: Holiday fraud

Dec 4: Loan and investment scams

Dec 5: Ticketing fraud

Dec 8: Donating to charity

Dec 9: Mobile malware/malicious apps

Dec 10: Money transfers

Dec 11: Social media scams

Dec 12: Dating/romance scam

Dec 15: Mobile payments

Throughout the campaign the Force will be providing advice, support and tips to help people stay safe online over the festive season. There will be daily messages on social media, a leaflet and a dedicated webpage with more details about each of these crimes and tips on how to avoid them. www.westyorkshire.police.uk/onlinefraud

Members of the public can get expert, on-the spot advice and put specific questions to the Head of the Economic Crime Unit, Ramona Senior, and Force Crime Prevention Officer, Chris Joyce, during a live webchat on Monday December 1 from 7pm-8pm. www.westyorkshire.police.uk/fraud.

West Yorkshire Police’s Force Crime Prevention Officer, Chris Joyce, said: “Christmas is a peak time for people paying for gifts and services online but there are criminals out there that see this as an easy way to make money.

“You always need to make sure both your financial and personal information is protected from cyber criminals. Fortunately, a high percentage of cyber enabled crime is preventable and simple steps such as having strong passwords and up-to-date anti-virus software can assist in protecting your personal and financial details”

“If you are even slightly unsure about the credibility of a website then don’t input your information and never open emails or the attachments that may come with them if you are not 100% sure of the source or the content has no relevance to you whatsoever”

“Over the next couple of weeks we will be providing a wide range of help and advice that will hopefully assist in protecting you and your online activity. If you are worried that you, or any one you know, may have been a victim of cybercrime, or have concerns about a website or online trader, then get in touch.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is nationally recognised that cyber-crime is an emerging issue and is one of the fastest growing types of crime.

“It has also been raised to me personally on a local level by partnership agencies and during visits to schools in the county. This has prompted its inclusion in the Police and Crime Plan and I feel it is an extremely important area of work which needs more consideration.

“I am happy to support The 12 online frauds of Christmas campaign and help ensure individuals across West Yorkshire do not have their festive period ruined by online fraudsters wreaking misery as people shop online.

“Please look at all the advice issued as part of this campaign and make sure you make life as difficult as possible for those trying to steal from others as we work together to combat this growing problem of cyber-crime.”

Anyone who has had the misfortune to fall victim to one of the dozen festive frauds, or any other type of cyber-fraud, can report it to West Yorkshire Police on 101 or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.