Shopping on eBay

Brummie shoppers being told to take extra care when shopping for gifts online as fraudsters gear up for the festive period tricking consumers with the promise of great deals and big cash savings.

A report by Action Fraud shows that fraudsters conned 15,024 UK shoppers out of more than £11 million over the Christmas period last year.

Consumers are being defrauded on popular social media websites and online auction sites.

Mobile phones were once again the most common item that people tried to buy from fraudsters. Victims reported being hooked in with bargain deals on some of the most popular models of smart phones, only for the phone to never actually arrive and leaving them without presents to give on Christmas Day. Apple iPhones accounted for 74% of all mobile phones purchased that turned out to be fraudulent.

Electrical goods, games consoles, household items, computers, clothing, and accessories also featured in many of the reports. Examples including Fingerling toys, UGG Boots and Apple MacBook’s were among the most popular items victims reported losing money to fraudsters on.

Last year, more than 30% of reports were made by women aged between 20 and 29, however anyone can fall victim to Christmas shopping fraudsters during the festive period.

This year Action Fraud and City of London Police are urging all shoppers to look out for the warning signs that mean an offer may be too good to be true.

Top tips to avoid being scammed this Christmas

  • If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.
  • Make sure you’ve installed the latest software & app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details.
  • Use a strong, separate password and 2FA to protect your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.
  • Don’t click on links in an unexpected email or text. The volume of shopping related phishing emails increases during the holiday period. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online commented: “Christmas can be a really busy and often stressful time, so it can be easy to rush into making a quick purchase online to secure a must have gift or bargain without taking the time to check that everything is as it seems.

“But, taking a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself with a few simple online safety tips can be the difference between getting all your shopping done in time and becoming a victim of online fraud.

“Really simple steps such a paying via a credit card over a bank transfer or only using reputable shopping sites can make a big difference towards protecting yourself online this Christmas.”

If you have been a victim of fraud, report it online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.