Following dozens of internet-based scam alerts around the North West, Lancashire Trading Standards Service is warning consumers to be careful online this Christmas, as you’re more likely to meet three cons than three kings.
Amanda Maxim from Lancashire County Council trading standards service tells us what to look out for to avoid being conned:
1. Bogus websites . Bogus websites advertise fake or unavailable goods – protect yourself with anti-virus software, check for a padlock on the browser window frame, and look for lists of authorised sellers on official sites for major brands.
2. Auction websites offering fake or unavailable goods. Be cautious when dealing with sellers who are based abroad, research the seller’s feedback and history, and use Paypal rather than making payments direct to the seller.
3. Spam email links and attachments . Do not respond to or open attachments from unknown sources, do not send personal details, and be aware that if you roll your mouse pointer over a link it will reveal its true origin – often not the organisation it claims to be.
Clicking on attachments can download malware so if in doubt, delete.
4. Fake holiday offers.
Watch out for fake bargain holiday breaks on websites and social media.
Use reputable companies which are members of ATOL, or ABTA protected, check limited companies exist on the Companies House website, and pay by credit card not cash.
5. E-cards. Beware of anonymous E-cards. They may contain viruses which, once activated, can embed malware into your computer and then send passwords, personal and financial information to the fraudsters.
Helpline: 08454 04 05 06 for advice.
Alternatively, you can refer any scams to the Action Fraud website at www.actionfraud.police.uk.”