ESSEX Police officers are warning online shoppers to be vigilant ahead of the weekend’s busy shopping period known as ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’.
Sgt Julie Mackay from the Local Policing Support Unit has issued advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of online fraud, urging shoppers to be wary of "too good to be true” deals.
"Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer big opportunities for fraudsters and con-artists” said Sgt Mackay "The internet is always evolving and there are people out there looking for new ways to con people out of their hard-earned money as a result of phishing scams or links sent in emails about eye-catching offers.
"Every year we see a spike in online fraud with the theft of credit and debit card details. People need to be very wary of shopping online over public Wi-Fi networks because their personal details could be cloned or stolen."
She also warned against paying cash directly into bank accounts, to be extra cautious of adverts on social media pages, and following links from unknown sources.
"It’s important when buying items online that people follow the terms and conditions of the company, and that will include paying for goods through the site. Scammers may offer a discount by dealing with them direct, and paying money straight into their bank account.
"Anyone who does this may not see their money or promised purchases, and they may not be covered because they have ignored the terms and conditions of the website."
For more information about staying safe online visit www.getsafeonline.orgor cyberstreetwise.com.
You can report cybercrime to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.ukor by calling 0300 123 2040.