Holiday shoppers are urged to beware of scammers looking to cash in on the last-minute gift-shopping spree this year.
According to Lloyds Bank, the number of online shopping fraud cases increased by 20 percent in December last year compared to December 2020.
The typical person was tricked into handing over £427, with those aged 55-64 losing around £1,000 on average.
The study found that a third of people take a higher risk when shopping online at Christmas.
According to a separate survey by Capital One UK, 1.9 million Britons say they have been scammed over the holiday season last year and a further 3 million fear they may have been scammed.
Most of these scams start through online platforms like Instagram or Facebook Marketplace, where victims are lured by promises of discounted prices or hard-to-find goods.
The most common items reported in online shopping scams in a typical December include sneakers, clothing, game consoles and phones.
But experts are also warning parents about scammers taking advantage of their desire to get this year’s most coveted toys for their kids.
James Walker, chief executive of data protection firm Rightly, said: “Often the hype and stories in the media or on social media make a particular gift the ‘must have’ gift for that year.
“In the past it was the latest PlayStation or a year ago the Woody doll from Toy Story that nobody could find for love or money before Christmas.
“The scam occurs when scammers present bogus websites claiming to sell the indispensable gift. Demanding a specific gift is a gift itself to scammers.
“Customers can’t believe their luck – they’ve found the perfect gift and the kids are going to love it. You pay for the gift. It never arrives.
“Always remember, if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”
Lloyds also found that a third of people take a higher risk when shopping online at Christmas.
This can include buying from a website they’ve never heard of before, especially if they’re buying something that’s hard to find elsewhere. About one in five said they would take more risk to find the cheapest price.
The study also found that more than half of people still consider a bank transfer to be a secure payment method for buying items online, even though it offers much less protection than paying with a credit or debit card.
Festive Scam: Christmas is a time when the deliveries are flying and scammers see an opportunity to make money
Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, said: “With people particularly keen to grab a bargain given the tight cost of living this Christmas, heartless scammers will be ready to rob unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned cash .
“Online shopping scams come in all shapes and sizes, but the vast majority start with items promoted on social media, where it’s too easy for scammers to use fake profiles and promote goods that simply don’t exist .
“The safest way to pay for things online is always with a debit or credit card and with a trusted merchant. Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.”
Check out our Christmas parcel scam
Another scam popular this time of year is fake emails and text messages that claim a package is awaiting delivery and ask the recipient to click a link to pay a fee for collection to count.
Christmas is a time when the deliveries are flying and scammers see an opportunity to make money.
The website asks for personal and banking information, and the scammers can then use this information to impersonate the victim’s bank and ask them to transfer money.
Disturbingly, the study found that more than a quarter of Britons say they always or often click on links in messages that appear to be from a delivery company.
Walker adds: “There are many variants of this scam. For example, someone pretending to be a post office will ask you to pay a fee and provide some personal information so a package can be delivered.
“Then scammers use the information to contact you, perhaps by phone, to convince you they’re really from the company. One thing leads to another and eventually they emptied your bank account.
“Stay one step ahead of the scammers. If you receive a message like this, ask yourself, “Am I expecting a package?”
“It might be nice at this time of year, but always remember that neither the post office nor any major courier company will ever text you for personal information – they just wouldn’t do it. So you can assume that such a message is a scam.
“If you want to check a delivery, go directly to the seller’s website or directly to the real courier company, not by clicking on a link sent to you.”
Top tips to protect yourself from scams this Christmas
- Always use your debit or credit card when shopping online. This helps protect your money should anything go wrong.
- Low prices and great deals can hide scams. See if you can find them elsewhere. And remember, when an item is sold out, scammers can charge more to fool desperate shoppers.
- Scammers use social media to post scam offers. You can even send them straight to your inbox. Always look for offers yourself.
- Make sure a seller or website is genuine. Look for good reviews from different buyers. Be wary of mixed, bad, or no reviews. It is safer to buy from a trusted retailer.
- Ask questions before you buy. If a seller is unable to provide details about an item or is trying to pressure you into payment, this is a sign of fraud
- Never click on links in messages, even if you think you know the sender. Visit the delivery company’s real website to track a package.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/business/christmas-shopping-scams-for-2022-and-how-to-avoid-them/ Christmas shopping scams for 2022 and how to avoid them