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Police Chief Warns Of Online Shopping Fraud

Author: Anne Tugwell Published: 23rd April 2013 11:00

Police Chief Warns Of Online Shopping Fraud

A senior police officer is urging people across the Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police areas to be on their guard against internet shopping scams.

The warning has been issued by the detective in charge of the Economic Crime Unit covering both West Mercia - made up of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire - and the neighbouring Warwickshire force.

Detective Inspector Mark Glazzard says he is concerned at the growing number of residents in the two police force areas falling victim to internet fraud.

He said: "Online shopping and auction sites are regularly the most reported category of fraud to our two forces in recent months.

"Obviously, shopping on the internet has grown massively over the past few years and is a huge area for business transactions.

"But of course, something so big involving finance is bound to attract unscrupulous operators and people need to be aware there are sophisticated scammers around looking to take advantage."

He said other areas of internet shopping being exploited by criminals included advance fee requests and computer software services.

"I don't want to be alarmist but it is important people are aware of what's happening and take all possible precautions to safeguard their interests.

"Using the internet to buy goods or services saves considerable time and effort and also presents you with the widest choice. There are, however, risks associated with online shopping and you need to take care with what you are buying, from whom, and how you pay for your purchase.

"Likewise, online auction sites are a highly popular way of buying and selling both new and second-hand goods and risks can be reduced by being careful. Choose reputable sellers and buyers, ensure payment has been received before despatching goods and ensure the payment website is authentic and secure before entering payment details."

DI Glazzard said online shoppers were best advised to choose reputable and well-established shopping sites.
Heeding the following safety tips will help provide protection while shopping on line:-

· Ensure any online retailer unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them. Establish a physical address and telephone contact details.

· Paying by credit card offers greater protection than other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery.

· Double-check all details of your purchase before confirming payment.

· Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don't recognise.

· When making payment to an individual, never transfer money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal.

· Check sellers' privacy policy and returns policy.

· Keep receipts and check credit card and bank statements carefully after shopping to ensure the correct amount has been debited.

· If new to online auctions, take time to read the online guides provided by the company to understand the system and what the rules are.

· Understand what the auction company can do (and won't do) if something goes wrong.

· Use a login name for the auction site that is different from your email address.

· If the seller is a business, check their real-world existence. If they provide a phone number or address give them a call.

Further advice is available from the www.getsafeonline.org website, as well as the police websites www.westmercia.police.uk/advice-centre/fraud-and-identity-theft or www.warwickshire.police.uk/crimeprevention/businesscp/index

If you think you may be a victim of an internet fraud, contact Action Fraud, the central point of contact for reporting fraud and financially motivated internet crime. Call 0300 123 2040 or the website www.actionfraud.police.uk

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