With the holiday season fast approaching, and with many people turning to online shopping as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Surrey RCMP has released a number of tips to keep people safe.
Noting that online marketplace apps and websites are often a convenient way for people to buy and sell items, the RCMP, in a news release Monday, also noted that those sites “are also a convenient way for criminals to commit personal robberies.”
“Criminals use apps such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Kijiji, and Letgo to arrange face-to-face meetings with their victims,” police warn.
“Victims are often lured using ads that offer high-value items at low prices. When the meet-up takes place, the victims are robbed of their cash or high-value item.”
If you are planning to meet an unknown person to either buy or sell an item, the Surrey RCMP recommends the following:
• Insist on meeting during the day and in a public place, such as a local business with regular foot traffic;
• Gather as much information as possible on the person who are dealing with – including full name and cell number;
• Do not meet in a secluded place or invite strangers into your home;
• Tell a family member or friend where you are going and when you are meeting the buyer/seller;
• Take your cellphone with you, and ask a friend to accompany you.
The Surrey RCMP’s Financial Crime Unite are also providing a number of safety tips for people purchasing items directly online – rather than from another individual – to ensure that your internet transactions are safe and secure and that packages are deliver safely and securing to your home.
• Create complex, difficult-to-guess passwords for your devices and accounts, and change your passwords frequently;
• Periodically check your credit reports, bank and credit-card statements and report any irregularities immediately;
• Use reputable websites. Reading online reviews can be a good way to identify which sites are trustworthy and which may not be;
• Always use a secure internet connection when making a purchase. (Look for a little lock icon on your browser);
• Don’t use an open wireless network that is not secured;
• Only shop on sites that take secure payment methods, such as credit cards and PayPal. Never send cash or a cheque;
• Make sure you use the correct delivery address when completing your online purchase;
• Make sure someone is home, or alert a neighbour when you are expecting a delivery;
• Consider installing surveillance cameras at your doorstep.
“We urge everyone to keep safety in mind while checking off items on your shopping list,” said Sgt. Ryan Forbes, Acting NCO in charge of the Surrey RCMP Targeted Enforcement Unit.
“Following these tips can prevent you from falling victim to internet based crimes.”