Scam alert

Top tips for residents to shop safely this festive period

Barking and Dagenham Council is encouraging residents to shop online safely this Christmas after it was revealed by Action Fraud that victims of online shopping scams lost on average of £1,000 per person last year.

The figures, which come from reports to Action Fraud and analysed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), showed that shoppers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were scammed out of £15.3m between November 2021 and January 2022, and that the age group most likely to fall victim was 19 to 25-year-olds.

According to Action Fraud, scams included:

  • One shopper losing more than £150 trying to purchase a mobile phone on social media
  • Another being duped out of more than £7,000 during an attempted online campervan purchase
  • A victim lost almost £500 when trying to buy shoes on a social media platform and a fourth person lost £145 trying to make a similar purchase.

To ensure that residents don’t fall foul to these scammer, Barking and Dagenham Council is urging them to follow the tips below to make sure they can shop safely and securely:

  1. Protect accounts: set up 2-step verification and use three random words passwords to prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your shopping, bank or email accounts.
  2. Choose carefully when shopping: research online retailers, particularly if you haven’t bought from them before to check they’re legitimate. Read feedback from people or organisations that you trust, such as consumer websites.
  3. Pay securely:
  • Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if payment details are stolen, the persons main bank account won’t be directly affected.
  • Also consider using a payment platform, such as PayPal, Google or Apple Pay. And whenever you pay, look for the closed padlock in the web address bar – it means your connection is secure.

The council is also warning residents to be extra cautious when purchasing from third party sellers via online market places especially when buying toys and nursery products. In October, the British Toy and Hobby Association revealed that nearly half of all toys purchased from third party sellers were unsafe for children.

Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety said: “We don’t want anybody to become a victim of scams but especially at Christmas and when there is a cost-of-living crisis.

“I’d encourage all residents to follow the above tips and make sure that they’re wary of where they’re shopping when online.”

For more advice on how to shop online securely this festive season, residents should head to: