CYBER criminals are "getting ready to pounce" this festive season, according to new research which suggests more online scams happen during the Christmas holidays.

A recent survey scamming victims found that in more than a quarter (26 per cent) of cases, the crime happened over the festive period.

On average, victims lost around £893 which is more than double the average Christmas shopping budget at £422, according to figures from Barclays.

A spokesman for Cumbria Constabulary told residents not to worry but to follow these a number of simple steps "to ensure they do not fall foul" of scams this Christmas.

- When online, delete all emails from people you do not know.

- Don’t open them first to check the content as that may be enough for the fraud to take hold.

Do not reply to spam emails

- Never buy from a seller with a poor rating.

- Never share your pin with anyone.

- Check statements regularly for unusual activity.

- If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud then contact your bank immediately.

Samantha White, who leads Barclays' work to keep customers safe from fraudsters, said: "While families across the UK are preparing to enjoy the festive season, criminals are getting ready to pounce on anyone who lets their guard down."

With shopping bonanzas such as Black Friday approaching, the research found that nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of people said they do not know or are not sure how to identify a secure website when shopping online.

Just over half (58 per cent) of online shoppers in general said they feel safe buying on the internet around the Christmas period.

The research included a general survey of more than 2,000 adults as well as an additional survey of 1,700 people who have been scammed.

The team at BarclaysDigiSafe also issued advice on how to stay safe while shopping online:

:: Look out for the padlock symbol and "https" in the address bar on retailers' websites.

:: Watch out for deals that look "too good to be true".

:: Do not use public Wi-Fi to purchase Christmas shopping online.