It’s that time of year when consumers are advised to look out for several scams that are currently circulating in the run up to Christmas. This advice was shared by Welsh councillor, Huw David, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, however it applies equally to other regions in Wales and across the UK.
Fraudsters are using a range of methods to encourage people to hand over cash, banking details and confidential information – from posing as council staff and setting up fake charities to sending false delivery notifications and phishing emails.
To help keep you safe over the festive season, here is a run-down of the 12 scams of Christmas that you should be alert for.
Scam #1: Refund scams
You may receive an email or text pretending to be from the council or other organisation promising a credit or tax refund and a link to click to claim the money back. They’ll ask for bank details – don’t give them.
Scam #2: Look-a-like websites
This year, more than any, we are buying presents online. Criminals sometimes set up fake websites that look identical to steal personal details and money. Secure website addresses start with ‘https’ and display a padlock.
Scam #3: Phishing emails
Criminals send emails that look genuine to make you click on a link or open an attachment that infects your machine with a virus. Think before clicking.
Scam #4: Phone scams
Criminals ring to discuss a topic and ask you to press a number on your phone. Don’t – it will generate huge charges which the criminals will profit from.
Scam #5: Gift card scams
Received an email from a friend asking you to buy gift cards for them? Criminals pretend to be people you know to get you to do this. They are after the code on the card to spend the money.
Scam #6: Brexit scams
Criminals may contact victims to suggest making ‘no lose’ investments to help capitalise on Brexit. They also pose as HMRC to get payments off businesses to register for trading.
Scam #7: Fake delivery notifications
Over December you may have many packages being delivered. Criminals are sending chance phishing emails disguised as well-known couriers and hoping to get you to log in and share you details. If you are in doubt, ignore the email and get in contact via the company’s official secure website.
Scam #8: Covid-19 scams
Received a letter from the council identifying you as a contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19? The council will provide advice about self-isolation and how to book a coronavirus test. They won’t ask for personal details.
Scam #9: Fake charities
Watch out for criminals using legitimate charity names to appeal for a donation. Ask to see their official charity ID which they are required to carry. Trust your instinct.
Scam #10: E-card scams
Watch for those e-cards you receive online. It could be infected with a virus that could shut down your device and you could be held to ransom to restore files. Get anti-virus software installed to alert you.
Scam #11: Fake romance
Looking for love online? Criminals are too… the relationship develops over time and the individual is convinced to make payments to them. Don’t – they’re also after your identity. Guard your privacy.
Scam #12: Shopping scams
Love top brands with low prices? Stay vigilant for counterfeit goods. These range from poorly made clothes to dangerous electronics which fail to comply with safety laws. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Cllr Dhanisha Patel, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, said: “I would urge residents to be cautious and aware of these cruel scams aimed at taking money or stealing identities.
“Fraudsters use all sorts of methods to target victims – knocking on doors, by phone, sending letters or online. Always be alert, and take your time when considering something.
“Don’t allow anyone to rush you, make sure you know who you are dealing with, and don’t be afraid to shut the door, hang up, bin it and delete it. Don’t let criminals ruin your Christmas.”