The 10 Scams Of Christmas

The 10 Scams Of Christmas

Friday 19th November 2021
Direct Training (GB) Ltd.

With the holiday season drawing in closer, the number of scams that are taking place is unfortunately only set to increase. To help to protect both you and your loved ones from fraud this holiday season, here are 10 common scams that you should look out for.

1. Fake gift cards
One of the main ways that scammers like to receive payment is in the form of gift cards. This is because gift cards are a form of transaction that are very hard to trace and refund. They are also faked in order to steal money from innocent consumers. Never buy a gift card from a third party seller such as a retailer which you are unfamiliar with who is selling Amazon gift cards. When these cards arrive (if they do arrive) there is a high chance of them being empty. This will mean the scammer has both your personal information and your money and you have an empty gift card.

2. Social media scams
Social media is often an easy place to target unknowing victims, especially during the holiday season where there is an increase In people trying to get the best deals possible. Always be careful when liking pages or clicking on links and ads. Also be wary of accounts which have been hacked. These accounts could have once belonged to your friends and if you are unaware that they have been hacked then they are an easy way for scammers to trick you into buying things or clicking on links. Also be wary of "Holiday deal" apps. If you see a raffle or an ad on social media. Avoid clicking on it. Instead, go on Google and search for that particular retailer's official site in your search engine. Ads on social media can often lead to fake pages which are designed to look authentic and trick you into giving away money and personal details.

3. Covid-19 disinformation
Due to the pandemic, now more than ever before, people are desperate for the latest health information. Scammers will use this desperation and curiosity to their advantage to spread incorrect and malicious. Sometimes this disinformation can also be used by scammers to fraudulently make you pay them money for things such as fake products or false requirements, tests etc.

4. Fake charities
A common method that scammers have been known to use around the holiday season is setting up fake charities. They know that there are people who are kind hearted and want to give and help others in need during the holiday season and therefore they use this to their advantage. Scammers will set up fake charities as well as clone charities to obtain donations from people who are unaware that the charity is fake. If you are unsure about a charity, before you donate to it, ask for the registered charity number and look this up online. If the number is recognised and matches the charity that it is associated with then you know that your money is going to a good cause. If you think a charity might be a fake clone of an already existing one, ask the person who is representing the charity some questions as their responses can often give you a hint as to whether the person is representing a genuine charity or not.

5. Smishing and/or phishing by text
Both smishing and phishing are methods which are used by scammers and other criminals to trick you into giving away your personal financial information. This information is then used to either steal your money or purchase goods in your name. They can also do things such as open new loans or credit cards. The difference between these two methods is as follows:
Smishing - This method works by sending text SMS messages to your phone. Often pretending to be something like your bank.
Phishing - This method uses an email message to gather your information, much in the same way as Smishing does.

6. ID Theft
There are several key types of identify theft and they are as follows:
- Financial Identity Theft
- Tax Identity Theft
- Medical Identity Theft
- Employment Identity Theft
- Child Identity Theft
- Senior Identity Theft

7. Fake goods
Fake goods, also known as counterfeit goods are a dangerous type of product that are often sold online. Especially with the pandemic, more people have been shopping online. The danger of this is when you shop online you don't always know exactly what you are getting until it arrives. There have been some unusual items sold online which are dangerous such as fake brake pads for bicycles. These fake brake pads are stuffed with grass which renders them useless and extremely dangerous to use. During lockdown, online shopping accounted for 80% of consumer spending. This is compared to the previous 20% before the pandemic hit. Statistically, it is reported that during the March 3 month lockdown, adults spent a quarter of their day online.

8. Phony jobs
The holiday season is a time of year where people are desperate to make some extra money, especially after the pandemic. This has led to an increase in phony and fraudulent job listings. Sometimes these job listings include illegal activities whilst other times the scammer never ends up paying for the work which has been done, leaving the employee out of pocket.

9. Malicious apps
As previously mentioned, not every app is trustworthy. Especially around the holiday season there is an increase in malicious apps which are purely designed to steal money and personal details. These are commonly in the form of things such as holiday discount apps. These apps promise discounts for the holiday season but in turn need your bank information or personal information to access these offers. These offers commonly turn out to be false and provide you no discount or anything in return, they are simply designed to obtain your information. Apps can also contain malware which is able to infect your device with trackers and viruses. If this happens, seek expert help from somewhere such as phone/laptop repair shop as these places are often able to remove these viruses. If you give away your bank information or have any money stolen, contact your bank immediately.

10. Refund scams
One of the most common online scams year-round is the refund scam. In this scam, the victim will often receive a fake voicemail, email or text, notifying them that they have made a large purchase that often they haven't made and stating that if you didn't order the item to get in touch. If you become victim to one of these messages and call the number provided, you will be connected to someone who is pretending to be a representative of an organisation such as Amazon. They are not a real representative and will in fact, unknown to the victim, be a scammer. They will ask to remotely access your laptop/PC through software such as Microsoft TeamViewer. If you grant them access they will be able to see and access everything on your computer, including your bank and personal information. Once they get to the stage where they pretend to refund you, they will distract you and alter your screen to make it look as though they accidentally sent you too much money when in reality they haven't sent you a penny, they've just made it appear as though they have. As the victim is not aware that this is a scammer they will often willingly send the money over thinking that they are doing the right thing whereas in reality they have just been scammed and in most cases, have sent large sums of money to a scammer. This scam can be devastating as it has the potential to steal innocent people's life savings. Furthermore, this scam is especially dangerous as once you have fallen victim to it, scammers can often steal your information and sell It on to other scammers and third party organisations.