In the run up to Christmas Mid Ulster Policing & Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) is urging people to protect themselves from cyber fraudsters.
Internet shopping for Christmas peaks on Black Friday (25th November) and Cyber Monday (28th November) when shoppers go online to take advantage of the many pre-Christmas bargains.
Thousands of people across Northern Ireland will go online to buy presents for friends and family, search for holidays or book tickets for a show not realising the hidden threat from online criminals.
Chair of Mid Ulster PCSP, Councillor Frances Burton said, “More internet shoppers are being targeted by scammers. The key to staying safe online is to recognise and understand the potential threat. The internet has really changed how people shop but unfortunately it has also made us vulnerable to criminal scams that tempt people with cheap deals or corrupt our smartphones, tablets and laptops with computer viruses. Remember, go with your instincts, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!”
A high percentage of people will buy their Christmas presents online but they should be aware that criminals will take advantage of this by creating fake websites to advertise counterfeit goods that are poor quality and unsafe or items that will never be delivered. Fraudsters also use auction sites to sell these goods so people should be extra careful when shopping online.
An increasing number of Christmas cards are being sent via email. Many are genuine however cyber criminals are creating their own version which may contain a virus. More people are also using mobile devices, especially smartphones to make purchases. Data is usually stored in the phone’s memory and may be compromised if the device is hacked or stolen.
Be vigilant this Christmas and only shop online from reputable websites.
For further information on scams or to report a scam contact police on 101.