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Fraud and Risk Focus Blog

Shopping safe online this Christmas

13 December 2019

Shopping safe online this Christmas

New research from Lloyds Bank revealed that the average amount people are being tricked into handing over on social media is £393, whilst 45-54-year-olds are being scammed out of £498 on average. The poll of more than 2,000 UK adults found almost half of people had sent money via bank transfer to sellers on social media platforms yet never received their items.

Common Christmas cons

Make sure you and your family are aware of the most common scams that they may come across this holiday season:

Number spoofing or smishing (SMS phishing): Scammers have become wise to intelligent caller IDs on smartphones and many are using software that makes it look like they are from a legitimate company.

Counterfeit goods: Last year, a specialised Europol unit shut down 20,520 websites for illegally trading counterfeit merchandise online.

WhatsApp scams: Often offering money off your shop if you follow a link and fill in a survey.

Tech support calls: Cold calls, emails and unsolicited texts are all early warning signs, but sometimes they can seem legitimate if you have just been online shopping.

Don’t rush into a Christmas deal

Around the holidays there are many ‘Christmas only deals’, or ‘get them while they last’ bargains. It is important to confirm these deals are legitimate. If something seems too much of a bargain, then there’s a good chance that it’s poor quality, fake, or doesn’t exist at all.

Online auction sites are a common method used for fraudulent activity. Once the potential buyer is ‘hooked’, the ‘seller’ will then usually use a form of deceit and social engineering to lead the buyer to another seemingly legitimate website. Once there, they enter their personal details to purchase the item, and in some cases, be asked to do a bank transfer, leaving the scammer with all of their personal details.

See an offer come through via email or text? Be extremely cautious before clicking a link as the amount of online shopping related phishing emails always increases during the holidays.

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Avoiding authorised push payment fraud

As outlined in our Fraudscape 2019 report, £145.4m was lost through APP fraud.

Social engineering tactics through deception and impersonation fraud are key drivers of authorised push payment scams. This can be done through social media to approach victims, using adverts for goods and investments which never materialise once the payment has been made. Victims fall for this type of fraud throughout the holidays, most commonly, by clicking on fake ads and links they are seeing on social media sites and through emails.

If a customer authorises the payment themselves current legislation means that they have no legal protection to cover them for losses – which is different to unauthorised transactions.

Tips to avoid push payment fraud:

  • Question unexpected approaches and requests;
  • Question who you’re talking to;
  • Take your time;
  • Have the confidence to say no.

Online shopping

If you’re doing your Christmas shopping, then:

Make sure shopping websites are authentic by carefully checking the address is spelled correctly. Fraudsters can set up convincing websites with very similar spelling to the authentic one.

Ensure that payment pages are secure, by checking that addresses begin with ‘https’ (‘s’ is for secure) and there’s a closed padlock in the address bar.

Don’t pay for anything – goods, event tickets or holidays – by transferring money directly to people or companies you don’t know, however desperate you are to buy. If it’s a fraud, it’s doubtful the bank will be able to recover or refund your money. The safest way to pay for anything is by credit card.

Avoid counterfeit goods: they’re of lower quality than the real thing and can even be dangerous in use.

Sun for Christmas?

Social media is a burglar’s best friend and that includes the status and photos people share when they’re away on holiday, having left the house empty for a week or two. If your home is ransacked while you’re away, not only could insurance companies not settle claims if they find you’ve announced your absence on social media, but the burglar will have a field day with your bank statements and other confidential papers.

Our advice: however tempted you are to share your holiday good times online, think twice before you do.

Already been a victim of fraud?

If you have paid with a credit card you can claim it back under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If it was via debit card, you can try getting your cash back via 'chargeback' which is when you dispute a transaction to secure a refund. Report fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

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Posted by: Amber Burridge

Amber is the Head of Fraud Intelligence at Cifas.

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Posted by: Amber Burridge

Amber is the Head of Fraud Intelligence at Cifas.

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