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Top tips for safer online shopping this Black Friday and Cyber Monday

This mega shopping weekend, West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police are advising online shoppers to take extra care to avoid scams and frauds.

Although the idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday originated in the United States, many UK retailers have adopted the trend.

At this time of year, fraudsters are after your money with bogus bargains and fake goods. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Cyber Monday, in particular, is a peak time for online fraudsters on the look-out for ways to part consumers from their money, bank details, or personal data.

Detective Superintendent, James Tozer said: "With increased numbers of online shoppers making the most of special offers this weekend, fraudsters will be seeking to take advantage. Fortunately, many scams can be avoided with some simple precautions."

Tips for safer online shopping

1. Take five seconds to think before you buy - do you know and trust this retailer? Does this offer look too good to be true? Trust your instincts and if it feels dodgy, it probably is.

2. Check it's a safe website - avoid clicking on links from unsolicited emails. When you visit a website, make sure its web address begins with https (the's' stands for 'secure'). Check there's a padlock symbol in the address bar, which usually indicates a website is secure. If you're using the latest version of your browser, the address bar or the name of the site owner should turn green.

3. Make sure your device's security systems are up to date - remember to frequently update your anti-virus software, which defends against viruses, malware and other online threats.

4. Check who you're paying- never transfer money directly into a seller's bank account; use a secure payment site (like PayPal, for example). Check your credit card or bank statements frequently after online shopping so you can spot any errors or suspicious transactions quickly.

5. Print your receipt and order details - a hard copy can be useful if any disputes arise, or the retailer 'loses' your order after taking your money.

6. Use shared computers wisely - remember to log off fully from all websites you've used during your session. Never allow sites to remember your usernames, passwords or card details on a shared computer.

More information and advice

There are some great sources of information and advice for safer online shopping and transacting:

Cyber Aware (www.cyberaware.gov.uk) gives practical tips, like how to choose secure passwords and update your software to ensure your devices are protected.

Take Five (https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/) provides the latest advice on various types of online financial scams and frauds. The organisation works with a wide range of partners in the finance, law, and telecommunications industries.

Action Fraud (www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud) is the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. Through their website, or by phoning 0300 123 2040, you can report fraud, attempted fraud, and crime, and receive a police crime reference number.

Issued: Wednesday 22 November, Corporate Communications.

Published 21/11/17