Watch out for Festive Fraud over the Holiday Period

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Festive Fraud and Cyber Crime – what to look out for

In an era marked by escalating financial fraud and cyber crime scams, vigilance is paramount. The National Crime Agency (NCA) reports that financial fraud stands out as the most frequently encountered crime in the UK, showcasing the evolving sophistication of fraudulent activities. 

Fraudsters have mastered the art of articulation and financial acumen, presenting individuals with seemingly genuine websites, convincing testimonials, and materials that closely mimic legitimate counterparts. The nature of these scams comes in various forms, all with the same goal of gaining access to your finances. 

Methods employed by fraudsters range from extracting personal information to outright theft and cunningly persuading individuals to willingly part with their hard-earned cash. The repercussions of falling victim to fraud and associated offenses, such as counterfeiting, can be profound, inflicting substantial personal losses on vulnerable individuals and jeopardising the operation of businesses. 

Recognising the urgency of staying one step ahead of these fraudsters is imperative to equip yourself with the knowledge of identifying scams, implementing protective measures, and understanding the necessary steps to take if targeted or victimised. 

Here’s 6 types of festive fraud and how to recognise warning signs

Your Online Presence 

As the festive season unfolds, the pursuit of unbeatable deals and exclusive discounts becomes hard to ignore. However, amidst the excitement, it is crucial to exercise caution and shield oneself from potential cyber crime. Delve into our expert tips on maintaining online safety, ensuring a secure and enjoyable online shopping experience. 

Pension Scams

Pension scams pose a threat to individuals. Cyber criminals, adept at presenting an air of professionalism, deploy credible websites, testimonials, and materials to persuade pension savers to transfer their entire savings or release funds into a scheme under the scammer’s control. Recognising the illegality of cold calling about pensions is crucial, as it often serves as a red flag indicative of a scam. 

Key indicators of pension scams also include: 

  • Enticing promises of superior returns on pension savings 
  • Offers to release funds before the age of 55 
  • Utilisation of high-pressure sales tactics 
  • Promotion of unusual high-risk investments like property, renewable energy bonds, and forestry 
  • Intricate investment structures, and fixed-term pension investments that may only reveal issues several years down the line.  
Online Shopping Scams 

Cyber criminals love to take advantage of this trend. Be wary of fraudulent websites and pop-up ads offering seemingly unbeatable deals or exclusive discounts. Scammers may set up fake online stores to capture personal and financial information. Always shop from reputable websites, double-check the website’s security (look for “https” in the URL), and avoid clicking on suspicious links. If it’s too good to be true, avoid it. 

Charity Donation Scams 

The holiday season is a time when many people feel generous and are inclined to make charitable donations. Scammers exploit this goodwill by creating fake charities or impersonating legitimate ones. They may reach out via email, phone calls, or even in person, requesting donations for seemingly worthy causes. Before contributing, verify the legitimacy of the charity by checking their official website or contacting them directly. Avoid making donations through unfamiliar channels or in response to unsolicited communications. 

Gift Card Scams 

Gift cards are a popular holiday gift, and scammers devise various tactics to exploit them. One common scam involves receiving an email or a phone call from someone posing as a friend, family member, or even a colleague, claiming they urgently need gift cards for a specific reason. The scammers may create a sense of urgency, pressuring individuals to purchase and share the gift card codes. Always verify such requests directly with the person making the request through a separate, known communication channel to avoid falling victim to this type of scam. 

Parcel Delivery Scams 

With the increase in online shopping, scammers may send fake delivery text or email notifications or missed delivery slips through the mail. These notices often include a phone number or a website link for you to reschedule the delivery. However, interacting with these could lead to identity theft or financial fraud. Double check the legitimacy of delivery notifications by directly contacting the courier company using their official contact details. 

Don’t get caught out during the Christmas season, be cautious and alert of anything that looks a bit off. Whether it’s online shopping, charitable donations, or parcel deliveries, be wary of unsolicited communications and offers that seem too good to be true. Verify the legitimacy of websites, charities, and delivery notifications before sharing personal information or making transactions.