It’s almost time! The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us, and for the more organised of us, Christmas shopping is already well underway. And this year, online shopping is once again beating back retail store sales figures with a stick, thanks to more and more people preferring to shop online. But there is a class of people out there for whom this trend hasn’t gone unnoticed. No, we aren’t talking about retailers! We’re talking about scammers.
Top Christmas Frauds in 2017
Over the last year, the resurgence in fake websites selling ‘genuine’ products or experiences at cutthroat prices. This year, some are already being caught out by convincing looking sites and offers. In particular, the Action Fraud group has said that mobile phones, jewellery, clothes and shoes are the top targets for fraudulent offers – because they are fast becoming the top Christmas presents of the year. In a joint effort, Action Fraud are teaming up with the City of London police force, urging people to give more thought to where they are souring their presents. This comes after last years figures showed a staggering £16 million of consumer money was lost to Christmas shopping fraud. In 2016, the most popular items included Yeezy trainers, kylie Jenner make-up, hair dryers, drones and Fitbits. The latest figures suggest that the 2016 loss was a 25% increase of that from 2015, with 65% of crimes at Christmas linked to online auction sights. The #ThoughtThatCounts campaign is encouraging gift-buyers to pause during the festive rush to consider the source of their goods. They are also releasing a series of videos, like this one, that illustrate how one small mistake can mean that a thoughtful gift never turns up.
Some of the top scams this year include:
- WhatsApp supermarket voucher scams
- Fake ticket sites
- Mimicked auction sites
- Fake bank account warnings (about scams, ironically)
Simple Tips To Avoid Fraud This Year
Of course, sometimes fraudulent products can be very difficult to spot. Scammers are getting better and better, and their ability to create realistic looking sites is almost scary at times. So to stay ahead, you’re going to need to be a bit more aware when doing your Christmas shopping. Here are a few tips from us to help you spot fraud, instead of falling for it:
- If a product seems much cheaper than expected, be cautious. Sure, it could just be one sale, but it could just as easily be poor quality, fake or even non-existent. Only trust cheaper prices from trusted, official retailers.
- If you’re buying from an auction site, or a website you’ve never used before, use PayPal or if you have a credit card with payment protection, use that. This means you can claim the money back if your product is fraudulent or doesn’t arrive, so you’re not out of pocket.
- Never transfer money to a stranger.
- If you’re buying tickets (whether it’s for a concert, a show or anything else), make sure you are buying form an official source. Fake ticket sites have seen a huge increase this year, and if you purchase through them, you will turn up to the show without a real ticket.
- Research any online holiday deals to make sure you’re buying a genuine offer, and check that it is registered with ABTA and ATOL.
Fraudsters see Christmas as a golden opportunity. Whether it’s by tricking you into buying non-existent products, or skimming your credit card details and doing their own Christmas shopping. So this year, make sure you aren’t the reason Christmas comes early for a scammer, keep your data safe and make sure you’re buying real, genuine products. And above all – have a great December!