BogusBuster, the free platform helping everyone avoid being scammed, issues Christmas Countdown with a difference – the 12 scams of Christmas to avoid!
1)Charity – Over the festive period there are many donation appeals from legitimate charities but beware as there are also scammers posing as charities trying to rip you off.
SCAM TIP – Be cautious if you receive suspicious charity emails or phone calls. It is always safer to approach charities directly if you want to make a donation!
2)Christmas Cards – Watch out for fraudulent e-cards, these are sent via email and might look lovely but if you click the link to open them the malicious software will steal your sensitive information.
SCAM TIP – Never click on unsolicited e-cards, especially if you don’t recognise the sender.
3) Christmas Shopping – With many of us keen to support independent businesses, opportunists are busy creating fraudulent websites to scam shoppers.
SCAM TIP – make sure a site is legit by; checking the website’s domain name starts with “https”, displays the closed PADLOCK icon, checking reviews on the site, submitting the site url to bogusbuster.org for the team to check if it’s genuine for you.
4)Holiday Travel Gifts – While travel is currently on hold a future mini break would make a fantastic present and help support the travel industry. However, watch out for non-existent accommodation offers and fake travel vouchers online.
SCAM TIP – Check for guest reviews on all accommodation and vouchers before purchasing anything.
5)Lottery Wins – Have you won a lottery you don’t recall participating in? Sadly if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Stay alert, there’s a high number of lottery scams currently targeting British consumers. These scams try to steal your personal information or convince you to pay a fee to receive a prize which all too often doesn’t exist.
SCAM TIP – Never pay to receive a prize. Be careful and report any suspicious texts, emails or social media messages you’ve received.
6) Online Marketplaces – Shopping on marketplaces such as Amazon can be very convenient with so many products in one place, especially during the Christmas rush – but whilst the marketplace itself might be legit there can still be scam sellers on there.
SCAM TIP – Beware if a seller; isn’t responsive, has bad or no reviews, asks you to remove the transaction off the site, or again if an offer seems way too good to be true.
7)Parcel Delivery Scams – Received an order you didn’t place? This could be a Christmas parcel delivery scam, also called brushing. Scammers set up an account in their target’s name and then send products to this unassuming person. This scam is mainly used by fraudsters to write fake reviews and boost online ratings.
SCAM TIP – If you think you’ve been part of a Christmas brushing scam, change the password of your account and contact the shopping site!
8)Romance Scams – Christmas can be a particularly difficult time to be alone and scammers take advantage of this to target those on dating websites.
SCAM TIP – Beware if someone you have just met online asks you for money or personal information that could be used for identity fraud.
9)Social Media Surveys – This Christmas, be aware of scammers using social media surveys to access your personal details. In return, they may offer vouchers or free products which will probably never arrive.
SCAM TIP – Remember it’s easy to block and report someone on social media!
10) Weight Loss Scams – Every January there is a surge in gym memberships and weight loss programmes as people seek to undo any Christmas excesses – but not everyone’s intentions are positive and you can find many fake weight loss programmes advertised on websites or via email. These products usually claim to allow rapid weight loss without the need for dietary restrictions or exercise.
SCAM TIP – It is always safer to speak to your GP who will recommend healthy (and legit) weight loss providers.
11)Whatsapp Well Wishes – a popular way to keep in touch and send Christmas good wishes but beware Whatsapp phishing scams. This scam involves sending you a message and getting you to click on a link or attachment to steal your personal information.
SCAM TIP – Stay safe and avoid clicking on links in Whatsapp messages sent by unknown senders.
12)TV License Renewal – the end of the year might mean it’s time to renew your TV license. Scammers understand this and use the opportunity to target British consumers with TV Licensing scams. Sent by email, these scams ask for urgent payment or personal information.
SCAM TIP – When you receive an email to renew your TV license, make sure:
– the email address looks genuine
– the email is specifically addressed to your name
Report any emails to firstname.lastname@example.org if it seems suspicious.
● Lets users check the authenticity of a website or online shop by simply entering the url [web address].
● Provides regular updates, news, tips and advice on the latest scam threats – from fake HMRC tax emails to phoney bank calls.
● Includes details to demystify the internet for anyone using it – including a glossary of common terms.
● If the worst were to happen – BogusBuster provides a step by step guide on what to do and who to contact from online shopping platform Amazon to the Yorkshire Bank.
Funded by Innovate UK as part of its programme backing solutions to Covid-19 related issues, BogusBuster was designed to help everyone, from digital natives to first time internet users, avoid increasingly sophisticated online scammers.
Rachel Jones CEO of SnapDragon and BogusBuster founder said; “2020 has been a tough year for everyone and this year more than ever people are in need of a little Christmas Cheer – we’re highlighting the 12 Scams Of Christmas to avoid in the hope that it scuppers the scammers!”
To find out more, follow the blue dog (BogusBuster) sniffing out scams: bogusbuster.org.