GOOD news this week is the return of printed Champion...sorely missed by residents. Let us hope that things are improving for everyone at last.
This week, because of the continuing problems caused by the scammers and phishers etc, I have taken a close look at some of the online information and help which I hope will keep our residents and readers safe and secure with their festive shopping. So first of all the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - part of GCHQ – has launched a major campaign called Cyber Aware with its first ever TV ads. The NCSC has listed six key things people can do to protect accounts. These are:
use a strong and separate password for your email
create strong passwords using three random words
save your passwords in your browser
turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
update your devices and apps
back up your data
It is hoped that, by taking these steps, the statistics provided by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which showed 17,405 reports of on-line shopping fraud over last year's Christmas shopping period (from November 2019 to end of January 2020), reporting a loss of £13.5m ( an average of £775 per incident according to the NCSC), will be overturned this year and that such losses will not recur.
Now for some hints about being careful where you shop. It's worth doing some research on online retailers to check that they're legitimate. Read feedback from people or organisations that you trust, such as consumer websites. Some of the emails or texts you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. If you're unsure, don't use the link, and either type a website address that you trust directly into the address bar, or search for it and follow the search results. Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases, and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won’t be directly affected. However, debit card payments and purchases are not covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. But you might be able to make a claim for a refund under a voluntary scheme called “chargeback”. Maybe you might consider using an online payment platform, such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay. Using these platforms to authorise your payments means the retailer doesn’t even see your payment details. They also provide their own dispute resolution should anything go wrong. However, they may not provide the same protection as a card provider, so check their terms and conditions before your sign up
Finally, when it's time to pay for your items, check there's a 'closed padlock' icon in the browser's address bar.
If you have been targeted by a scam, or know someone who has then, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk. Warn family, friends, neighbours, the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme etc. If you get a suspicious circular, or are contacted by someone you think may be a scammer, make sure you tip off others.
You can get advice on all types of scams from a Citizens Advice Scams Action adviser by calling 0808 250 5050.
The service is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. We're closed on bank holidays. Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice 0344 493 0012. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/
Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line 0800 144 8 444. Their website address is – www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk