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Essex Trading Standards: Don’t fall foul of online scams

11 July 2016

This July, Citizens Advice and Trading Standards have joined forces to launch the national Scams Awareness Month (SAM16) to help stop people falling prey to scams. Essex residents are being encouraged to follow the three-step rule and (i) get advice, (ii) report it and (iii) tell others about it.

Each week during Scams Awareness Month Essex Trading Standards will be drawing your attention to a different technique used by scammers. Last week it was telephone scams and this week it is online scams.

The internet has made many people’s lives easier but it also contains a lot of misinformation and opportunists looking to con people out of money.

Common online scams include payment card scams, where card details are cloned or stolen and used by third parties; fake goods scams, where consumers buy products (such as event tickets, goods or services) that do not exist; and dating scams, where scammers begin a fake online relationship with the victim to con them out of money.

Essex Trading Standards advises:
• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
• If you haven’t bought a ticket, you can’t have won
• You should never have to pay anything to get a prize
• Social Media: always check the account you are following is the official one and not a fake offering pretend prizes
• Be careful buying tickets and goods online – always use an official retailer
• Use a secure site when you are inputting card details.  A secure site will have a web address beginning with https not http
• Create passwords which are long and use a mix of numbers and lower and upper case letters
• Change passwords regularly and don't share them
• No genuine online company will contact you to ask for your log-in details
• Don't open suspicious or unknown emails, email attachments, texts or pop up messages
• If you have received a possible scam email then do not reply or click on links

If you are concerned that a member of your family, friend or neighbour has been the victim of a scam, you can report the incident to the Trading Standards national helpline, run by Citizens Advice, on 03454 040506.