Garda crime prevention advice for Christmas

With the busiest shopping period of the year upon us, especially online, the public and retailers alike should take steps to protect themselves from fraud.

Online shopping

With the increase in shopping online shoppers should be aware that behind some flashy websites, criminals are looking to cash-in on the December online spree. Anonymous fraudsters can set up legitimate-looking websites to sell either counterfeit goods or no goods at all. People are warned to take extra care when purchasing popular Christmas gifts online. Previous reports suggest the following products are the top five to feature in online shopping fraud: Smart phones, digital cameras, designer goods including jewellery and branded handbags and boots, laptops and notebooks, video game systems.

To make sure your online shopping is safe and secure remember these tips: Use secure websites that you trust. Do your research before making a purchase. Check online forums for feedback

Do they have a real-world presence? Can you see their address and phone number? Can you establish it as a valid registered phone number that is not diverted to another country.

Check the browser address changes from 'http' to 'https' to indicate you have a secure connection and look for a padlock or an unbroken key symbol on your web browser. If website prices for designer items, games and smart phones seem too good to be true, they probably are. Legitimate popular technology and designer items are rarely discounted.

Counterfeit currency

Feel - you can feel the raised intaglio printing on all genuine notes and also the tactile marks on the €200 and €500 banknotes.

Look - hold the note against a bright light source, the denomination (eg, €5, €10, €20, etc ) in the top left hand corner should be fully visible and perfectly formed.

Tilt - look at the colour shifting ink on the reverse side of the high value notes (ie, €50, €100, etc ). The value numeral looks purple when viewed straight on, but appears olive green or even brown when viewed at an angle. On the reverse of low-value notes (ie, €5, €10, and €20 ) look for the iridescent stripe that shines against bright light.

Check - you can see a security thread embedded in the genuine note. If you hold the banknote against a bright light source you can see the watermark and the security thread on the note. The

watermark is visible from the front and back of the note. The watermark comprises the main architectural motif and the value numeral of the note

Counterfeit bank drafts

Do not accept bank drafts from someone not known to you. Do not send, release, or deliver goods on foot of a bank draft that has not been cleared by the issuing bank.

Cheque fraud

Control who has access to your cheque books. Do not sign cheques in advance. Ensure all issued cheques and unused cheque numbers are accounted for. Check this when you get a new cheque book and review regularly to ensure no cheques are missing. Cross all cheques 'a/c payee only'. Do not cash third party cheques

ATM security

Always shield your hand well when you enter your PIN number at an ATM or point of sale device. Always look closely at an ATM machine to see if anything unusual is attached or if it looks different to normal. If you are suspicious do not use it and call the Gardaí. If you see people acting suspiciously at an ATM machine walk away and ring the local Garda station immediately. Never approach people acting suspiciously, just note their description and any other relevant information that could be used to apprehend them. Always report any apparent malfunction at an ATM, such as damage to the card or money slots of the ATM, or money not being dispensed.

Recent email scam

Gardaí have recently become aware of unsolicited emails which indicate to the receiver that they have been the beneficiary of development grants and the email seeks them to contact a bank and provide personal details.

These emails are in Irish and gardaí urge the public and the Irish speaking community in particular to exercise great care. If in any doubt you should contact your local Garda station.

Crime prevention is everybody's business. The Gardaí cannot fight crime alone without the support and cooperation of the community. Everybody has a role to play in attempting to prevent and reduce crime. You can contact Sergeant Tony Cosgrove, Crime Prevention Officer, Castlebar Garda Station, for advice on 094 903 8200.

The Garda Síochána wishes our readers a very happy, safe, and crime free Christmas.


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