#romancescams | Online shoppers warned about fraud as Black Friday sales near


POLICE have warned shoppers to stay safe online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Criminals know this is a time where people are looking for a deal and might be tempted to click on a suspicious link or share personal information.

The force advised that people should not be rushed into making purchases or sharing information, and to stop and think to consider if something might not be legitimate.

Since the previous lockdown, there was an 80 per cent increase in the number of reported problems consumers had with online shopping, ranging from scams and defective goods to not knowing their consumer rights and struggling to get refunds.

National Consumer Week is highlighting these issues and letting people know where they can get advice and support, like www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ncw20 or by calling 0808 223 1133.

This is part of National Consumer Week and International Fraud Awareness Week

Lockdown has provided ideal conditions for fraudsters to take advantage of vulnerable people and steal large sums of money from them. Courier fraud, romance fraud, fake phishing emails and scam phone calls have all increased.

Wiltshire Police fraud manager Alison Wiles said: “Courier fraudsters are possibly the most callous in my opinion – they’re able to look their victim in the eye and lie to them, often frightening a vulnerable person into giving them huge sums of money.

“They initiate contact primarily over the phone, posing to be a trusted police officer or bank official and ask the victim to either purchase expensive items for ‘evidence’ or remove large quantities of money from their account after claiming a mistake has been made, only to be collected by a fake ‘courier’.

“Older or less technically minded people living alone in isolation during lockdown are more at risk, we’d like to ask those in our communities who are more savvy when it comes to fraud, to look out for your less knowledgeable friends, family or neighbours. It could make a huge difference.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson added: “Many people will be turning to the internet to plan for the festivities ahead, but it’s important to remember the basics, don’t get caught out by scammers aiming to benefit from the extra time we’re spending online.

“Having regular conversations with less fraud aware, often older people, could easily help prevent someone you know becoming a victim of these fraudsters. Prevention is always our preferred strategy – let’s all do our bit to try and curtail these scams.”

Businesses should visit fraudweek.com/fraudweek/resources for advice

Fraud victims should call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk

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