In the weeks leading up to Christmas, everybody needs to be extra vigilant to the increased risk of frauds and scams. Don’t let fraudsters spoil your celebrations.
Fake shopping websites
If you are making a purchase from a website or person that you don’t know, carry out some research first.
Look online for reviews of the website or the person that you are buying from. Use a payment method that offers buyer protection, such as PayPal or a credit card. Most credit card providers will help you get your money back if the item is faulty, poor quality or never arrives. Secure website addresses start with ‘https’ and display a locked padlock.
Remember if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Parcel delivery scams
The run up to Christmas is a busy time for receiving parcels and another opportunity for criminals to steal personal and financial information. Scammers create ‘missed delivery cards’ that look like the cards used by different courier services. The fake cards advertise a premium rate phone number to organise a redelivery, which charges large sums of money to anyone who phones it, and the automated message asks for personal information. There are also fake texts and emails in circulation requesting a fee to redeliver a parcel, which include a link to a website requesting payment details and personal information. Remember to consider what deliveries you are expecting and check where your parcel is in the delivery process from the website you ordered it from.
Buying fake tickets as gifts
A popular Christmas gift is tickets to various events. However, fraudsters are creating bogus websites advertising tickets to popular events that have already sold out at a much cheaper price, or the event doesn’t even exist. If you then purchase these tickets, they will never be delivered, the e-ticket is fake, or you will be advised that a representative will meet you on the day with the tickets – but of course they don’t turn up. Remember to only purchase tickets from reputable websites or an official agent, and check whether the vendor is a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR).
You are likely to spend more money in the run up to Christmas than you normally do, and you may make different kinds of transactions, so receiving a call from your bank may not seem that unusual. However, be aware of banking scams when someone calls you pretending to be from your bank. They may claim that there has been some suspicious activity on your account and advise you to move your money. Remember a bank would never ask you to move money to a safe account and if you receive any calls that appear suspicious, hang up and call 159 which is a safe route for contacting the vast majority of UK banks.
E-cards are gaining popularity as they can be cheaper and easier to send than a traditional Christmas card via the post, but they do come with risks as fraudsters use e-cards as a method for delivering malware. Clicking on a link to an e-card could result in viruses being downloaded and your personal and financial information being stolen. Check that you recognise the sender of the card and contact them directly to verify it is actually from them. Remember to make sure your anti-virus software is up to date.
Gift card scams
Gift cards are for gifts not for making payments. If someone asks you to pay for something by putting money on a gift card then giving them the numbers on the back of a card, they are a scammer. Criminals clone and pretend to be people you know to get you to do this. They are after the code on the card to spend the money.
Never make a payment this way, even if the caller states they are from a government department, and it is urgent to pay a fine or a tax. Gift cards are popular with criminals as they can be used to launder money and are difficult to trace compared with bank transfers.
If you have fallen victim to fraud you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime
If you have given your bank details and think you may have lost money, contact your bank immediately.
For further fraud discussion and support please Contact Us.