The time of year has come when we all start to think of Christmas, especially looking for bargains and due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, online shopping is extra essential to help buying our gifts, but watch out, the scammers are also out there in force, waiting in the cyber-shadows to pounce! The average UK victim of purchase fraud in the first half of the year lost £720!
Some banks are warning their customers to be on the look-out for Black Friday Fraud, where cyber-criminals are targeting lockdown purchases, especially large ones, like Patio heaters, bikes, sheds to name a few. Consumers are tricked into paying for shoddy products or products that don’t even exist.
The scammers are also using the ‘Christmas Gift’ Platform to harvest personal information and data to resell on.
Katy Worobec, director for economic crime at UK Finance, said: “As consumer spending has shifted online, criminals have ruthlessly adjusted their approaches to pursue those shopping on the internet. With Black Friday and Christmas approaching, fraudsters are again stepping up their efforts to take advantage of consumers searching for bargains.”
There are signs Black Friday could be bigger than recent years with non-essential shops closed until early December and coronavirus continuing to spread.
Research by TopCashback this week found a third of people are more likely to make a purchase in the sales online this year because of Covid-19.
Listed below are some very popular scams to watch out for:
- Fake Gifts. Where the gift is either very poor quality of the original item or doesn’t exist at all. Make sure you buy from a legitimate website that you know and trust. As an example of a fraudulent site, if there are no contact details that is a good red flag to avoid the site.
- Malware ridden E-Cards. We all receive E-cards nowadays, but double check who they are from, if you don’t recognise the sender, don’t open it and delete it quickly!
3.Fake Charities. Scammers are ‘faking’ the websites of well-known charities, to get us to part with our cash. You think you are giving to a popular legitimate charity, but the site has been cleverly duplicated. Again, make sure that you are on a legitimate site, if something looks out of the ordinary, come away.
4.Desktop Backgrounds. Many of us like to have festive background on our desktop at this time of year, but be very careful where you download these from. Many can contain malware. Never download Zip files from an unknown source.
- Giftcards E-Mails. This is a very popular choice for gifts so that your recipient can buy something that they want/like themselves, but the scammers have got onto this trend too. They send out a receipt for a giftcard that you don’t remember purchasing, when you then try to cancel it, they ask for personal details like credit card information. Watch out for receipts that don’t come from official recognised sources.
6.Social Media messages. We all send them and receive the cheery little animations and attachments on Social media, and Christmas time is a particularly busy time for these types of messages. But again, beware, your friends/Family could be accidently sending you malware contained in them. Don’t open attachments/links that don’t look familiar.
- Fake holidays. At this time of year and particularly during the pandemic, more of us are thinking of booking holidays for next year. Cyber-criminals are faking websites or social media adverts for your dream holiday. These can be at the least an advert that will infect your device or at the worst, you pay for full for a fake holiday. Only book holidays from reputable companies and make sure you are on the official website.
8.Fraudulent Surveys. These fake surveys often come with the promise of cash or gift rewards, but a legitimate site will never usually offer rewards. If they ask for personal details like bank or credit card details they are definitely fake. Close pop-ups to surveys and don’t fill in anything that asks for your personal information.
These are just a few of the top scams around this time of year. Remember the golden rules, if it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably not! And never rush into purchasing anything online, take 5 minutes to think who it is you are buying from, try to do a bit of background research if you are unsure, to find out whether the site or product is legitimate one.
Having a good antivirus package installed is a great way to help avoid being scammed, The Norton 360 Range or McAfee Security protection Range are 2 very popular Antivirus companies that will help you to find fraudulent site and tell you when sites are safe. For a small outlay per year, it will give you and your family, on all their types of devices, great peace of mind, especially at this hectic ‘online’ time of year!