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Gloucestershire Business News

Residents urged to be watchful for festive scams

Gloucestershire residents are being urged to be watchful over the festive period to avoid becoming victims of a fraud scam.

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.

To help keep you safe, Forest of Dean District Council has issued some advice on how to avoid some of the main scams over the festive period:

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 the district's 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 the district's 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.

Councillor Mark Topping, leader of the Forest of Dean District Council, said: "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.

"If you have been the victim of fraud you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. You can seek free and confidential advice from Victim Support on 0808 281 0112 or 0808 168 9111."

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