Top 10 Christmas Scams

As we gear up for the biggest shopping event of the year, we’ve put together the Top 10 Christmas Scams to be aware of in 2022. With consumer wallets squeezed, bad actors are pulling out all the stops to empty out what’s left in your purse.

Here is our list of the scams we expect to be most prevalent and most convincing this year.

10. Desktop Backgrounds

Festive backgrounds can be fun at this time of year, but beware – these types of downloads may contain malware. Malware is designed to hack into your device and steal sensitive information. The golden rule: never download software from an unknown source.

9. The Gift-Giving Pyramid Scheme

The bad actor sends you phishing emails, ecards or social media messages with an attractive offer. For example, send one gift and receive 10 gifts in return. You won’t receive any gifts in return, but you’ve managed to gift your personal details to the thief.

8. The Fake Job

Eager job-seekers get scammed when they enter personal information to these fake job listings. Some posts even ask for money up front towards training before processing your application.

7. Grandparents Beware!

Seniors are more at risk from scammers than the younger population. Scammers target a grandparent by impersonating a young family member. Usually, they ask for financial help in an urgent situation. Always be suspicious of a request for cash from a family or friend, particularly via social media or email. Be wary of texts saying, “Hi, this is my new number, please save it”. This is how bad actors impersonate family members and gain trust from victims.

6. Gift Card Payments

Have you been asked to purchase using a gift card? These are not traceable payment platforms and don’t offer the same protection as a debit or credit card. When you buy the gift card, the transaction is no longer traceable, and neither is your cash.

5. We’ve Got Your Parcel!

It’s an old one but it’s still a good one. Scammers will send you a text or an email saying you missed a delivery. They will ask you to click on a link or pay a fee for redelivery. These scams are rife at Christmas when shoppers are anxious to receive gift purchases on time. Be aware that delivery companies will never ask for personal details.

4. “IT Support – How can we help?”

If you receive a gift of a laptop or phone, you might need help setting it up. Bad actors, who claim to be the manufacturer, will send emails offering support. They might ask you to click on a link and download software to help with the process. Your device will be hacked, and your personal information stolen.

3. The Puppy Scam

Every Christmas, thousands of puppies and kittens are given as Christmas gifts. Not only do many of these animals fall into the wrong hands, much of the cash paid for them does too. Social media ads offering deals on puppies are to be treated with caution. These pet scammers normally ask for money upfront for vaccination and other fees. Remember – a puppy’s not just for Christmas and this is another good reason not to go shopping for one online.

2. Next Year’s Dream Holiday

Over the Christmas period you might be planning your next holiday. Scammers will send out phishing emails or SMS messages with deals too good to be true. They lure you to a website where they try to steal your personal information.

1. The Fake Website. Our Christmas Number One!

Our Christmas Number One this year is one of the hardest scams to detect. Mistyping the address to a website normally leads to a blank page or an error message. However, it can also lead you to a page created by bad actors on the chance that you have used a common mis-spelling. This page will look like the page you expect to see. If in doubt, double check how you have spelled the URL. You can also check that the links on the webpage work and that phone numbers lead to a valid source.

For more information about how to spot a scam or how to report a scam, check out the really helpful Citizen’s Advice web page. If you are a small business owner, you can protect your business from breach or attack by implementing the UK Government’s Cyber Essential Accreditation programme. Contact us for advice on how to get started.

Have a great Christmas, folks and Shop Safe!

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