This December we are urging people to Think Crimestoppers this Christmas’ by offering advice and tips on how to keep safe through the season.  We will be posting crime prevention and safety awareness tips via social media to help protect you, your valuables, car, and house. Each week will be themed and we are looking at areas such as shopping, personal safety, travelling and partying.

Christmas is a happy time of year, but it can quickly turn sour if crime takes place. You can give Crimestoppers information anonymously about a number of crimes that may, unfortunately, affect people this Christmas. Here we kick off with tips to keep you safe whilst shopping.

Christmas PresentOnline shopping

If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t exist. At this time of year many fake online stores pop up wanting to prey on your eagerness for a bargain. Look for online reviews of the site and think about phoning the contact number. If there isn’t one, this could be a warning sign.

When shopping online on a reputable site create strong passwords that are unique for each account you have. A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words and include a mix of capitals, numbers and symbols.

Tip: Secure Wi-Fi is vital for your privacy. Check that the network you’re using is secure before you make any financial transactions. Use methods like PayPal when buying on auction sites; never transfer money to someone you don’t know.

E-Voucher scams

You’ve received a message via whats app or email or social media claiming to offer free vouchers or prizes from well-known brands. You’re told to pass the message on and enter your details once you’ve clicked the link to claim a voucher. This can take you to a fake site and your details could be passed onto other fraudsters. Victims are lured to fake websites where they’re persuaded to enter personal information, login credentials or banking details that are harvested by fraudsters to commit fraud crimes such as identity theft and bank fraud.

Tip: Email the retailer if you’re not sure and look out for poor grammar to assess whether it’s fake.

Fake goods

From designer clothes, bags, watches to perfume, cosmetics and electrical items – as well as pirate DVDs, CDs, computer software and games – counterfeit goods are available in a variety of products.

More and more people are now prepared to knowingly buy fake items as Christmas gifts, but there are serious risks involved with counterfeit goods.

Fake goods are often bad quality and in most cases unsafe. Counterfeit electrical goods are not put through the same vigorous safety checks, and fake cosmetics and fragrances have been found to contain toxic levels of chemicals and unpleasant substances.

Tip: Look at the label and packaging  – usually it’s slightly different from the authentic brand. If it’s ridiculously cheap, there’s

Charity phishing

Like most charities, we accept donations here at Crimestoppers to help us continue with our work to enable communities to speak up to stop crime. Christmas is prime time for fraudsters to take advantage of the British public’s generosity and target your goodwill. They may send emails from a bogus charity or ones that purport to come from a legitimate charity but contain a link to a scam site.

Tip: If you want to give to good causes at Christmas, go through the charity in question’s own site.

Busy shopping centre

Keep wallets, purses and mobile phones out of sight and bags secure, especially in crowded places. Please be aware of who is around you and be vigilant now the shops are busy.

Tip: Keep bags and pockets fastened securely so it’s not easy for pickpockets to steal your belongings.

Let’s stay one step ahead of the criminals this Christmas and not give them the opportunity to strike. Think before you buy.

If you see anything suspicious tell us 100% anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or by going to our Anonymous Online Form: http://bit.ly/IQZvmW #thinkcrimestoppersthischristmas