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Advice to consumers shopping online

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Dudley Council’s scams unit is warning residents to take extra care when shopping online this Christmas.

With many people now choosing to shop this way as a result of the pandemic, the scams unit is urging people to follow some steps to ensure they don’t become the victim of a scam.

People buying from a private online trader or marketplace should check the trader is genuine and always look at reviews to see how previous customers have rated their product or services and overall experience.

They should also make sure any site they are buying from is secure before entering payment details. A secure website will start with https and should have a padlock symbol in the browser window. Most websites now have this feature, so if a site doesn't have one it could be a red flag. Scammers are able to forge or buy these padlocks so seeing one doesn't always mean a website is safe.

People are also advised never to follow links in messages from unknown senders, to be wary about who they give their personal details to and if they believe they have been a victim of a scam, they should contact their bank immediately.

The increase in online shopping has also provided criminals with a new opportunity to trick people into paying for goods and services that don’t exist.

Criminals also clone websites with slight changes to the URL to trick people into thinking they are purchasing from a genuine website. They may also ask for payment prior to delivery and send fake receipts and invoices that appear to be from the payment provider.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:

For many of us shopping online this year has been an essential way to shop, but we want to help protect our residents from scammers and ensure they are shopping via bona fide websites and not opening themselves up to being targeted.
Please follow the advice of the scams unit and help protect yourself from financial crime this Christmas.

Dudley Council’s scams unit aims to put a stop to financial crime in the borough.  Any suspicious company or activity can be reported to the scams unit by calling 01384 818871 or via trading.standards@dudley.gov.uk

To find out more about the work of the scams unit and what tips you can follow to avoid being a victim of a scam go to - https://www.dudley.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/rogue-traders-and-scams/scams/

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