THE Forest Council is urging residents to “be watchful” over the festive period to avoid becoming victims of a fraud scam.
The authority has offered some advice on how to avoid some of the main scams over the festive period.
A council spokesperson said: “Christmas is a great break for families but is also a traditional time for fraudsters to try to take advantage of the season of goodwill”.
Car parking scams
In some cases fraudsters have been replacing QR codes in car parks and using fake websites to pose as on-line payment providers and have duped some drivers into entering bank details when they park to go Christmas shopping.
To avoid any scam payment websites, it is important that visitors access online payment providers safely. If you choose to pay by this method in our car parks, make sure you follow one of the routes below:
Download the PayByPhone or alternative parking fee app directly from the App Store or Google Play Store
Visit the website by entering PayByPhone.co.uk or alternative parking fee provider directly into the search bar
Dialling 0330 400 7275 (for PayByPhone) to use the automated phone line
Remember in some of our car parks you can also pay using your card or using cash directly via the machine. If you do use a QR code, check that it appears on Council signage and does not appear to have been doctored.
Facebook Marketplace scams
There has been a 75% increase in people being scammed when shopping for items such as cars, tickets, clothes and holidays on Facebook Marketplace.
To avoid falling victim to a Facebook Marketplace fraudster keep in mind the following advice:
Is it too good to be true? When something appears to be a fantastic offer remember it isn’t a bargain if it never arrives or doesn’t exist
Do you have to pay immediately? Legitimate sellers will not pressure you into paying
Can you meet the seller in person? Try and buy locally so you can check the item before paying
How are you being asked to pay? Do not pay by bank transfer. Pay by debit or credit cards to protect yourself.
Online shopping scams
More than ever we are buying presents online. Criminals sometimes set up fake websites that look identical to real ones to steal personal details and money. Or it could be a website for a fake company selling a product you really want.
To avoid any scam websites always check for the following:
Buy securely - only make payments online if there is a padlock symbol in the browser address bar.
Check – make sure you've examined the web address for the https protocol – make sure there is an ‘s’ present, it represents the site is secure.
Accuracy - Look for subtle misspellings, extra words and characters, and other irregularities.
Forest Council Leader Mark Topping commented: “While the festive season is all about giving and caring, unfortunately there are those who take advantage of people over this period.
“We are encouraging everyone to follow our tips and be on the lookout for fraud and avoid falling victim to these scams.
“You can seek free and confidential advice from Victim Support on 0808 281 0112 or 0808 168 9111 or by visiting www.victimsupport.org.uk”.