As Christmas approaches, Lisburn & Castlereagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) in partnership with the local police, will be reminding residents and local businesses to keep themselves and their property safe.
To promote this message social media campaigns and pop-up information kiosks will be launched across the district as part of the overall Christmas Crime Prevention programme. The social media pages of the PCSP and PSNI will focus on scams and general crime prevention advice. The information stalls will be located within retail centres and public transport hubs across the City Council area to reinforce this message including the recent initiative of Business Watch across the council area. If you are out and about Christmas shopping and see one of our information stalls, please stop and have a chat about staying safe this festive season.
Social media platforms for the PCSP, PSNI and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council will all carry the same message from the launch of the Christmas crime prevention campaign on the 24 November until Christmas Eve. In addition, there will also be advice in the lead up to Cyber Monday, 27 November, on how to shop safely online.
The Business Watch initiative provides local businesses with prompt access to information on crimes and suspicious activity as well advice on security products and free safe shop training provided by the PSNI Crime Prevention Officer.
To date this year the PSNI has received 3,400 reports of scam related crimes. Unfortunately this has left many victims counting the cost for months and years to come. In Northern Ireland alone it is estimated that almost £19 million is lost to scammers.
Most frauds and scams are committed at distance with criminals exploiting communication networks. Contact is usually made through phones, social media, emails or text messages. These include impersonation messages, where victims are lured into romance or investment type cons. In recent months there have been cases of cost of living scams.
Advances in technology have enabled criminals to make contact with victims in their home by gaining access to their online banking and personal data. It is important to remember anyone can be targeted and criminals will constantly change how they present their scam to draw people in, but the objective is the same – they are trying to obtain your personal and financial details. In recent months, we have also seen fake offers of refunds on utility bills, energy tariff discounts, energy rebates, tax rebates and cost of living payments all used by criminals.
All these scams are attempts to get your personal details, such as your name, address, date of birth and who you bank with. This information can then be used to commit a more sophisticated theft where the losses can be substantial.
The best way to stop scammers is to apply these five important rules:
- never click on links in text messages from someone you do not know
- never call or text back suspicious numbers
- never ever transfer money to someone you do not know or have not met
- always delete texts requesting personal, financial information or bank account details
- always forward scam texts to 7726 – the free scam text reporting service
If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to police online using the following web address: https://www.psni.police.uk/report or call 101.
For further advice on reporting suspicious texts, emails and websites visit www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/phishing-scams
The Chairman of Lisburn & Castlereagh PCSP, Councillor Alan Givan speaking at the launch said “We cannot remind people enough of the importance of looking after themselves and their belongings, particularly at Christmas when there are gifts bought to give to friends and family. Please ensure they are kept out of sight and not placed below Christmas trees or visible from outside your home. Unfortunately there are criminals who will invade your home and steal your personal belongings. My message to you is clear; make sure you do not invite burglars into your home by not securing it properly and stay ahead of scams by remembering the top tips”.
District Commander for Lisburn & Castlereagh, Superintendent Kelly Moore commented, “As Operation Season’s Greetings begins, we want to make sure that everyone in our District has a safe and crime-free Christmas, by taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure they do not become a victim of crime.
“The service-wide operation aims to maximise our visibility and offer reassurance to communities across the busy Christmas and New Year periods, and during this time, our officers and staff will focus on a number of priorities including safe shopping, safe roads, safe socialising, safe homes and violence against women and girls.
“Over the coming weeks, you will see officers out and about in our city and town centres, and they very much welcome the opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have as we work together to keep everyone safe. Please also take the opportunity to visit any of the information kiosks that may be located near you, or you can seek further advice on our website and social media platforms for additional support.
“Preventing crime is top of our list and we would encourage residents and business communities within Lisburn and Castlereagh, to engage with police and report anything deemed suspicious to local officers on 101.”