Christmas is the season of Joy, Happiness and Giving, but watch out for those who try to take advantage of that merry feeling. Here are 12 scams and fraudulent activities to look out for during this festive period.
Online Shopping Fraud
Whether you are a veteran online shopper or are taking to the information superhighway for the first time this year, keep a keen eye open for the criminals out to make your shopping experience a nightmare. Irresistible bargains are often too good to be true, websites are mimicked and faked, forced pressure of transferring funds to secure purchases and a list longer than my arm of all the tricks in the book these fraudsters will try to earn a fast buck .The Metropolitan Police have a fairly in depth overview of what to keep an eye out for when shopping online to prevent falling victim to fraud, well worth a read to help you stay vigilant.
Avoid sending money to someone you’ve never met in person, but if unavoidable, make sure you don’t send large sums all at once. Transfer a minimal figure first (£1?) and make sure it arrives to the correct recipient. If the option is there, pay late – scammers often try to coerce you into paying early to take advantage of best price offers, if you don’t meet their deadlines and suddenly deadlines are being extended, you could be dealing with a scammer. Most importantly, if you are transferring money, make sure you use somewhere secure and reputable (PayPal most commonly).
Did you really win that prize? Can they really recover a lost monetary prize winning that you knew nothing about? These scammers will reach out to you claiming that you’ve won some lottery or prize draw and for a nominal fee, will go and fight for you to recover it. To make it worse, if you fall for this scam your details are often put on a “sucker” list where many other scammers get access to your contact details knowing that you’ve fallen for a scam before and might fall for one again. If its too good to be true, it probably is.
Social Media Scams
Fake terms and conditions, copied official brand logos and a link requesting you enter your details once clicked. Scammers on social media want you to click the links, input your details and then exploit a “share” feature so they can send messages to all your connections. Just because its from a trusted friend or family member doesn’t make the link immediately reputable. Which? have quite a well drafted “spotting the scams” checklist we suggest you give a read before your next facebook binge session.
Technology has made the “faking” of a number relatively easy. You can download apps that do it for free! Just because a number you’re receiving a phone call from is listed as someone from your phonebook, or even if its unknown but when looked up suggests its your bank, keep in mind that any person, any device can easily convert their “dialled from” number to any number they wish to look like they’re someone else. If you suspect foul play, hang up and call whoever it was the caller claimed to be, see if it really was them all along.
The list is endless of how many different phone scams have been tried, how many are still in circulation and sadly, how many are still successful. Sadly, the elderly are prime targets for phone scammers. AgeUK have a detailed writeup of all the common scams, advice on how to spot them and what to do if you’re targeted by one. Even if you’re not the kind of person that typically falls for these scams, I bet there’s someone in your social circles that is! Wouldn’t hurt running through AgeUK’s list with them would it?
Just like number spoofing and phone scams, email scams are just as prevalent especially this time of year. Deals that look too good to be true, fake prize draws that you’ve allegedly won, emails from scammers pretending to be contacts you know and trust, the possibilities with email scamming/phishing emails knows no limits. Luckily for you, CFC have a well-documented blog covering all you need to know about email security that is well worth a read!
Fake Delivery Notifications
Its almost Christmas, we’ve all thrown our wallets at amazon, ebay and the likes to get those online orders in before the big day. But how well have you been tracking those deliveries? Sure, you’ve got parcels inbound, but is that email you just received really a legit parcel tracking notification or have you just clicked on a scam and given a scammer all your personal information and/or passwords? Think before you click!
Tis the season of giving, and charitable donations are always on an upward trend this time of year. Unfortunately, scammers impersonate genuine charities and ask for donations or even contact you directly to collect money. We all want to help the needy this time of year, but keep cyber security in mind before you go donating to a good cause, make sure the money is going to a genuine charity! Scamwatch have broken down ways in which to spot the scams here.
You can’t afford to keep using the same password you created 20+ years ago on all of your online logins today! We know it’s a burden to have to remember 100’s of logins, its easier to have just the one, or to have your browser just “save password” for everything, but what happens when that password gets exposed, ends up in a scammers hands? Delete those old accounts, keep on top of changing passwords frequently, have different passwords for different sites and to help keep track of it all, consider using a Password Manager.
So the next gen of gaming consoles hit the shops just before Christmas this year, and with the growing tensions of job losses thanks to Covid-19, quite a few online “sellers” using sites like facebook market place, gumtree, ebay and craigslist have ceased the opportunity to buy out bulk stock of these consoles, with hopes of reselling at hiked prices. This is known as Scalping. If you’re desperate, there’s not much option left but to buy at these extortionate prices, as retailers simply have no stock left for the general public. But be warned, if you’re buying from a person rather than a retail outlet, watch what you’re clicking “buy” on, as these scalpers are starting to list the consoles at their hiked prices, but also list a picture only of the console, typically at the original RRP of the console. They are breaking no rules with this activity, as the items descriptions typically state that instead of £1200 for a PS5, the £450 listing is for a picture only. If you fall for this, you’ve got little hope of getting your money back. Don’t buy these hot topic items without triple checking what you’re buying first.
Seen an ad for “personalised message from Santa” or “receive a letter from Santa”? Sure would look great to send to the younger generations right? Have you seen how much information these guys want from you? I’m pretty sure you don’t need my inside leg measurement and dental records! Ok that might be taking it a bit too far, but in all seriousness be watchful of how much information you’re sending to these pop-up seasonal businesses offering festive services, read through their T’s and C’s and make sure the information you do give isn’t being sold onwards.
While we are consumed with the Christmas spirit it is easy to let your guard down and mistakes do happen! If you want a second opinion, think you’ve fallen victim to a scam or are sure you have and need help recovering, CFC are here to help! Our TEAM IT helpline offers 15 minutes of free IT Consultancy, or you can reach out to us via our contact page.