Typically fraudsters revel at this time of the year as shopping and spending shifts into high gear during the holiday season and everyone looks to bag big bargains. Which is why it’s important to stay on high alert as you track down the perfect gift for your loved ones. After all who wants a Boxing Day treat of finding out you’ve been scammed out of your January sales shopping fund? Here are some top scams to look out for and tips on how to avoid letting a thieving Grinch steal your Christmas cheer.
‘Tis the season for giving
Looking to give back this Christmas? Charities usually seek donations at this time of year and whilst most are legitimate there are the few that are looking to exploit our charitable nature and steal donations especially online.
Top Tips to stay safe:
- Research the charity and double check the site URL you’re on is the website you want to donate to.
- If unsure don’t donate! It’s better to hold back on giving money than to know it may be being used for selfish reasons under the name of good will.
Snow, ski …fraud?
Booking a holiday deal on the cheap during the festive period is common after the expense of Christmas. But sometimes a deal that sounds too good to be true really is too good to be true, as savvy fraudsters promote bogus holidays on websites and social media. Once you’ve booked you all too quickly realise the holiday doesn’t actually exist or you got the flight but not the hotel.
Top tips when booking a winter escape:
- Use reputable companies protected by ATOL or ABTA and check with Companies House for verification of the company
- Always be suspicious if they don’t take card and ask you to pay with cash
- As with all companies do your research and consider reviews online
5 risky gift list items
Scammers are using 5 particularly popular gift items as bait to con Christmas online shoppers. According to Get Safe Online, Kaspersky and Barclays, the most risky brands to shop for online due to scammers trying to exploit them are:
– iPhones and Samsung Galaxy’s
– Xbox One and PlayStation 4
– Ugg boots
– Barbour jackets
– iPads/iPad minis
- This article by BT Money tells you how to spot fake goods online and Get Safe Online’s tips on how to protect yourself when shopping online
Mobile payments and Wi-Fi
With 78% of UK adults intended to buy Christmas gifts online this year and the estimated £720 million spent on Cyber Monday; the need to be extra safe when making online transactions through your phone or tablet is greater than ever before. This combined with using free public Wi-Fi is a recipe for disaster since you can’t guarantee a free wi-fi network is secure which means people can intercept anything you are doing online. This includes accessing passwords and personal data stored on your phone.
- When shopping, banking or making other online payments ensure you do it through 3G or 4G including when sending or receiving private information via email for example.
Festive e-cards have become more and more popular because they’re convenient and inexpensive and as far as saving the planet goes they’re fabulously eco-friendly as they are completely paperless. Yet unfortunately there is no space untouched by cyber criminals and they are on to this too!
Creating their own versions of e-cards containing a virus (malware) that embeds itself onto your electronic device and could collect all your personal data and information, including passwords and usernames, these e-cards are not ones you want to touch.
- Spelling mistakes and errors in the message are usually a tell-tale sign
- To be extra safe delete an e-card from someone you don’t know
- Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date
Finally, arguably one of the best parts of Christmas is seeing our loved ones faces lighten up as they rip open (or precisely unravel for the neat freaks out there) their presents to find the new tech gadget, designer shoes or ….. they’d wanted all year. But this can often put a strain on the budget so it’s no surprise more people are funding Christmas through loans and credit. Therefore beware of scammers sending unsolicited texts and cold calling victims offering unsecured loans regardless of credit history that once accepted are charge large upfront fees for little or no service.
If you are looking for a loan ensure you go through a legitimate service like Noddle’s credit comparison service to avoid dampening your Christmas this year.