Detectives in Derbyshire are issuing advice to help keep shoppers safe when using online auction sites as part of the Stamp out Fraud initiative.
Online auction sites are a popular way of buying new or second-hand goods; however these sites can also catch the attention of a cyber-criminal.
Fraudsters setting up bogus websites to sell non-existent goods, shoppers not receiving goods, or receiving goods which do not match the advertiser’s description and victims being persuaded to sell their items early or at a low price, are just some of the risks posed online.
Online shoppers are being encouraged to take simple safety steps to protect themselves from falling victim to cyber scams so that they can continue to use online shopping sites safely.
Detective Inspector Rob King, Head of the Derbyshire Constabulary Economic Crime Unit, said: “Online shopping is a huge industry and fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage of the trend, particularly on auction sites.
“There are a number of safety steps you can take when using such sites such as ensuring that your contact information is up to date, and that you are aware of the terms and conditions of the site so you know what rules are in place to protect you.
“When using the sites, always search the buyer or seller as to their rating and transaction rating, and if the seller is a business, always check their real-world existence.”
Other top tips for using auction sites safely from Get Safe Online, include:
Always double check online stores’ privacy and returns policies;
Be clear about shipping and delivery costs (for example, whether or not they are included and if not, if they are clearly stated);
Be clear about methods of payment and whether any of these incur a surcharge;
Provide only the minimum necessary personal information to sellers and buyers, such as your address for collection or despatch purposes;
Double check all details of your purchase before confirming payment;
Check that notifications of communications between yourself and your buyer or seller are not being blocked by spam filters, by regularly checking your spam folder;
Do not fall for requests to close auctions early;
Always make sure you have received payment before despatching goods;
When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.
If you think that you have been a victim of fraud, contact the non-emergency number for Derbyshire police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.