Beware of fraud – and tips to help prevent it
Posted on 8th December 23
‘Tis the season for festive scams. As we all become preoccupied with Christmas preparations and celebrations, it’s important to stay alert to the risk of fraud and identity theft, as scammers see this distraction as an opportunity to up their game.
Financial abuse can take many forms and can happen to all of us. But you don’t have to deal with it on your own. There’s lots of help and practical support available and we’re committed to helping educate and protect our Members from fraud and scams.
Learn about some of the more popular scams at this time of year and our top tips to avoid them happening to you and your family.
How do I recognise fake shipping and delivery notifications?
Expecting a delivery? It can be difficult to keep track of all the deliveries we are expecting over the Christmas season. Fake notification emails are often phishing scams designed to trick you into sharing personal or financial information by asking you to verify a purchase.
Delivery companies will never ask you for personal information. If they do, be suspicious. Always login to a website directly to check for delivery notifications rather than clicking on links in an email. Do not send additional payments to receive your purchase, payment is typically made at the time of purchase.
How can I be sure a website or online seller is genuine?
Don’t trust a website or online seller that you don’t know or trust. Always check them out before making a purchase. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
To make sure it’s a secure website, check there is a padlock next to the website URL in your internet search engine, and that the checkout page begins with ‘https’. Search for the company on trustworthy customer feedback websites.
Are free trials usually scams?
Be wary of email offers or pop up/social media advertisements offering free trials and unrealistic prices. These can often have difficult to get out of on-going subscriptions attached to them.
Contact the retailer to verify the offer before sharing your personal and bank account details.
I’ve been told Christmas eCards always have malware attached, what should I look out for?
Opening a Christmas eCard can release a virus onto your computer. Some even have malware attached that let scammers access your personal information.
Look out for spelling mistakes, an unknown sender or suspicious link/attachment. These are all red flags that an eCard could be malicious. If you are not expecting the eCard or the name isn’t one you recognise, it’s always simpler to delete the email.
I often receive unsolicited approaches from charities I’d like to help but worry they are genuine?
This type of scam is less common than others but still important to look out for. Scammers will take advantage of people’s charitable nature at Christmas time or even pose as charity workers to ask for money.
You may be approached by someone while you are out shopping, or they may knock on your door during the day. Scammers may falsely represent a charity and try to get you to donate or set up a long-term subscription, which is for their own gain.
It can be hard to say no to someone, especially face-to-face. If you are suspicious of somebody, ask for their charity ID.
Do your research. It’s important to have conversations about different kinds of fraud with relatives and friends – especially those who could be more vulnerable to this kind of crime.
If you spot a scam or have been scammed, report it and get help. There’s no shame in being deceived. Modern scams are hard to spot but by being alert and reporting it you’ll help others avoid being caught out too.
If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, have a look at our dedicated Security and Fraud page.