Be on your guard in both the actual and virtual worlds this Christmas as Police Scotland reminds communities against the risk of online fraud over the festive season.
There has unfortunately been a number of incidents targeting individuals and businesses online with scams in the Highlands and Islands alone.
And as the festive period means a higher number of transactions being completed online, some unscrupulous groups and individuals will actively seek out opportunities to put these frauds into action.
These scams still come in letters, texts, and calls, but more criminals are now looking online for the chance to get their hands on your money or accounts or your identity.
These criminals are often highly convincing and it is important to be aware of the warning signs - anybody is a potential victim.
Sergeant Steven Gillies, part of the Safer Communities team within Police Scotland's Specialist Crime Division, has answered a number of key questions and has good advice to offer about how to stay safe online.
What are Scams?
Scams are fraudulent schemes that coerce people into parting with their personal or banking details and/or cash.
Scammers now frequently target people through emails, online banking systems, text messages and online transactions. It is imperative that you access online banking through trusted web addresses and not through a link sent by a third party.
Be sure to check HTTPS is on the browser bar address and is accompanied by the padlock symbol.
Remember, a bank will never call or email and ask you for passwords, account details or to move money to a 'safe account'.
Police Scotland urges people to be similarly on their guard against unsolicited calls from someone claiming to be from their bank. Always double check numbers you're given to call back on or call through the main customer care number for the organisation and ask to be put through.
If you decide to ring back and verify the call it is advisable to do so on a different phone line like another landline or mobile. If you are still unsure, consider visiting your local branch instead of speaking to someone over the phone.
How do I know if I've been scammed?
You've got unexplained transactions made to your bank account.
Additional financial products pop up on your credit report that you don't remember taking out.
Bank statements meant for your address aren't delivered - this could be a sign of ID fraud.
You're rejected for credit when you've got a good credit history.
Can I get my money back?
Your first point of contact is the company or person that took your money. It may be worth seeing if you can get your money back from them - though if it's a scam, this route's unlikely.
If you bought something costing £100 or more on a credit card, you may be able to claim it back. Once you've paid using a credit card, the card provider and retailer are locked into a legally binding contract, so if the retailer can't or won't refund you, you can raise the dispute with your card provider.
You won't be covered if you used a debit card or spent less than £100 on a credit card.
Unfortunately, if you've transferred the money using sites such as Moneygram, Western Union or PayPal, you generally can't get your money back once you've handed it over.
What to do if you've been scammed
If you've already responded to a scam, end all further communication immediately.
Call your bank and cancel any recurring payments.
Report the scam to the Police Scotland on 101
Further preventative digital and cyber advice is available through the Police Scotland website at http://www.scotland.police.uk/…/…/phishing-internet-shopping
Further info is available from partner agencies at: