Scams to watch out for over Christmas

Christmas time means one thing for cyber criminals – stealing lots of money by scamming people!
Fraudsters are thriving to get their hands on your hard-earned cash so here’s everything you need to know to stay vigilant over the festive period and beyond.

Refund scams, delivery scams and text message scams are just a handful which go into circulation.
We’ve listed below some of the most common scams to watch out for.

Counterfeit items

The world of online shopping has taken off. It makes ordering goods easy and effortless as we can place orders at the press of a button, however one of the biggest downfalls of online shopping is the trade of counterfeit merchandise. If something looks too good to be true, it usually will be! Unless you’re purchasing from a legitimate website you could be giving your money to criminals. You may never receive the goods or if they do arrive they may be counterfeit. Be suspicious of goods that are priced lower than usual. Some products such as cheap electrical items can be dangerous and pose a safety risk, so steer clear of these and always purchase official.

Tips:

  • Only order goods through legitimate websites.
  • Never pay by bank transfer, always use a trusted payment method such as PayPal.
  • Pay using a credit card as this gives you protection.

Refund Scams

Watch out for any messages claiming that you are due a refund. A message in the form of an email or text message which says you are entitled to a refund may look tempting, but the link embedded within may be the trap between you and the fraudster. Whatever you do, DO NOT click on the link. Even if the sender’s email address looks legitimate it could be spoofed in order to fool you. Once clicked or opened, without you even knowing, you may have allowed the fraudster access to your device, where they can begin installing malicious software and stealing your private information such as passwords and bank account details etc.

There are 3 areas this type of scam can fall into:

  • Spoofing: A text message or email appearing to be from a legitimate company. The email address or caller ID can be disguised to look genuine.
  • Phishing: An email alleging to be from a reputable company in an attempt to retrieve personal information.
  • Smishing: Combines SMS with phishing.

Tips:

  • Think twice, unless you are expecting a refund it is likely to be a scam.
  • Never click on a link.
  • Delete the message.

Tech Scam Calls

Tech support scams are in circulation all year round, however if you’re distracted with Christmas festivities, you’re more vulnerable to be caught off guard.

A tech scammer may contact you via telephone where they usually begin by saying there is an issue with your computer (e.g. slowness or an internet problem). They make you believe they’re contacting you on behalf of an organisation, for instance your Internet Service Provider or a large corporation such as Microsoft.

They convince you to allow them remote access to your device to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, once they have gained access to your device they demand payment or else begin installing dangerous software on your machine to retrieve private details.

Tips:

  • If you are not addressed by your name this is a good reason to be suspicious.
  • Unless you are expecting a call from that particular organisation, it is most likely a scam caller. End the call.
  • If you are unsure do not call back on the number they called you from. Instead independently research the contact details for that company, call them direct and explain what has happened.
  • You may wish to consider a call screening device to help avoid scam and nuisance callers.
  • The scam may not always take place as a phone call, it could be in the form of an email or pop-up message on your computer so always remain wary of this.

Imitation Fraud

Fraudsters are smart. They know if they impersonate themselves to be a person of authority e.g. police or government agency, this can threaten victims and as a result open the door to them sending money.
Scammers target people in a variety of ways, this could be by email, message or voicemail. Some examples of cases we have had reported to us include being threatened with arrest or being promised a tax refund. This can be a trap to handing over your personal banking details.

Tips:

  • Government agencies or other similar authorities will not usually communicate with you by telephone.
  • Never hand out your personal details, this includes your name, address, bank account details or credit card numbers.
  • If you receive a suspicious voicemail do not call the number back.
  • You can always contact the authorities if you are concerned that it may be genuine.

Fake deals and vouchers

Many of us use social media to keep in touch with family and friends. Criminals are aware how heavily used these platforms are and for that reason they entice victims with fake vouchers and products.
Fake deals and vouchers for well-known brands or stores can be advertised across social media in the hope that people will fall for it.

If there are lots of positive reviews this can also contribute to making the voucher appear genuine, however reviews cannot be trusted. People who believe the voucher to be genuine are then likely to begin sending it onto other people and so on and so forth.

Tips:

  • Don’t trust reviews as they can be fake.
  • For security always use a credit card for transactions.
  • If you do want to check that it’s genuine, you could independently visit the company website for which the deal or voucher is for, and contact them directly to enquire.

Summary

We hope you have found this article useful. If there are any other scams you feel are worth mentioning please comment below to share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.