THE police have shut down more than 2,000 fraudulent websites in the run-up to Christmas.
Most were sites selling designer goods at bargain prices which either never arrived, or turned out to be fake, the force says.
Victims also ran the risk of having their identity and banking details stolen.
Action Fraud’s advice is to:
n Know who you are dealing with – check manufacturers’ websites to ensure you are buying from a reputable retailer.
n Be careful how you pay – if the purchase is over £100 consider using a credit card to protect your purchase, buy goods online through secure and encrypted payment systems, don’t be drawn off the site to other forms of payment and consider separate credit cards or accounts for online shopping.
n Protect your personal details – don’t give away personal details unnecessarily, don’t ever reveal passwords or PIN numbers.
n Protect your computer with anti-virus software.