Avoid getting scammed in the £11m Christmas fraud

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This Christmas, Action Fraud and City of London Police are reminding shoppers to take extra care when shopping for gifts online. As consumers search online for bargains and gifts for loved ones, fraudsters are seeing this as an opportunity to trick people with the promise of great deals and big cash savings. It’s not hard to avoid getting scammed, taking just a couple of moments to check if an offer is real or an email genuine is all it takes to stay safe

The latest report by Action Fraud shows that fraudsters conned 15,024 shoppers out of more than £11 million over the Christmas period last year.

“Christmas can be a really busy and often stressful time, so it can be easy to rush into making a quick purchase online to secure a must have gift or bargain without taking the time to check that everything is as it seems. But, taking a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself with a few simple online safety tips can be the difference between getting all your shopping done in time and becoming a victim of online fraud. Really simple steps such a paying via a credit card over a bank transfer or only using reputable shopping sites can make a big difference towards protecting yourself online this Christmas.”
– Tony Neate, CEO, Get Safe Online

Action Fraud Top Tips to avoid getting scammed

  • If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality, fake or doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.
  • Make sure you’ve installed the latest software & app updates. Criminals use weaknesses in software to attack your devices and steal information, such as your payment details.
  • Use a strong, separate password and 2FA to protect your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.
  • Don’t click on a link in an unexpected email or text. The volume of online shopping related phishing emails increases during the holiday period. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

We’re already seeing phishing emails pouring in over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend and marketplaces are a top target. The latest one is targeting Amazon with the lure of a $500 Cyber Monday voucher and of course if you try to download ‘your coupon’ you’ll become a victim. In this case it’s easy enough to see that it’s a scam – the email address isn’t Amazon and the email addresses the victim as ‘Dear client’. What the scammers are playing is a numbers game and whilst most recipients will instantly recognise the offer as a phishing email they only need a tiny percentage to click on the link to make their endeavours pay off.

Online merchants get scammed too

Stay safe and avoid getting scammed this Christmas and don’t forget that phishers don’t just target consumers, they also target online merchants as genuine marketplace accounts with selling history are the ideal way for them to either list fake offers or perform a ruse as simple as changing the PayPal address on a few of your listings to get the money rolling in. If you don’t notice until after Christmas that you’re missing funds it could be too late to recoup your losses.

If you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040.

2 Responses

  1. I have another tip: use an email service which filters out 99.99% of such phishing emails, so you don’t even receive them.

    I know that some services are very poor on this task. I use Gmail and I can’t even recall when was the last time I have received a phishing email. They filter these out very quickly.

  2. I keep getting spam emails with malware attachments through the Amazon system from one individual buyer
    Just catching up with back log and found the attached invoice,
    which I cannot find payment for??
    I might have already sent this to you, if so apologies.
    Despite reporting the messages as spam / malware etc, I continue to receive them. reporting them to Amazon CS results in confusion by them and still nothing happening.


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