Consumers in Powys are being warned by the county council about possible scams during the lead-up to the Christmas holidays.

According to Get Safe Online, figures showed that last year victims reported losing nearly to £16 million to Christmas shopping fraudsters – increasing from £10 million lost the year before.

Action Fraud reports rose by 25 per cent when comparing the 2016 Christmas period with the same period in 2015, Get Safe Online confirmed.

While an analysis of last year’s crimes showed that 65 per cent of crimes at Christmas were linked to online action sites, with the average loss for these reports coming in at £727.

Now Powys County Council’s Trading Standards Service want people to protect themselves from scams and have some top tips on how to spot a scam:

Payment – don’t pay for anything by transferring money directly to people or companies you don’t know, however desperate you are to buy. The safest way to pay for anything online is by credit card.

Fake online shops – make sure the shopping website you’re on is authentic and the payment page secure. You can do this by checking that the address starts with ‘https’ (‘s’ is for secure) and there’s a closed padlock in the address bar, but first, make sure that the web address has been entered correctly as some fake sites change one or two letters in the hope you won’t notice.

Charity phishing – if you want to give to good causes at Christmas, go through the charity in question’s own site.

Fake delivery emails/texts – watch out for emails or texts from parcel delivery firms telling you to open an attachment for your delivery note. A real delivery firm wouldn’t send you that. Also, unexpected emails, texts or posts urging you to click on a link for any reason should be treated with caution.

E-voucher scams – these are often shared on social media or email and claim to offer free vouchers from well-known brands. Potential victims are told that, to claim a voucher, all they need to do is click on a link. This can take them to a fake site where they will be asked for their details.

Social media scams – the social networks are also a place where links to phishing sites and malware can be widely shared. Scammers may even be “friends” of real friends of yours who say yes to every connection request.

Text messages – these messages can vary, sometimes they will pretend to be someone you know. They can get lucky and pick a name of a close friend/relative and processed to say that they have been in accident or in financial trouble and need money. If any doubt ring your friend or relative. Avoid giving money through links on text messages or emails.

Always log out – when you’ve finished your payment, you should log out of your account, as simply closing the page may not in itself end your session.

Buying tickets – buy concert, event, fixture or entry tickets only from official sources such as the box office, sports club or reputable fan ticket exchange site.

If you do experience any problems or have any pre-shopping enquiries, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice about your consumer rights and how to resolve disputes. They can be contacted by calling 03454 04 05 06.