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  • Writer's pictureITConnexx Team

12 Scams of Christmas

Everyone loves Christmas! But, Scammers love Christmas too. As thoughts turn to Christmas shopping online and personal accounts we need to have our Christmas guard up more than ever. Guide to the 12 Scams of Christmas helps alert you to some common scams.

1. WhatsApp Messaging scam

WhatsApp Messenger is a simple, convenient and powerful way of keeping in touch with family and friends. Its popularity, however, has made it a popular target for scammers, and messaging scams are on the rise.

What's the scam?

You may receive a message from someone pretending to be a family member. As in this example, scammers may ask you to transfer money for an emergency. Typically, the notes come from the accounts of hijacked accounts.

2. Online shopping fraud

Christmas movie, Jingle, all the way, pits two fathers (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad) against each other as they search for a Turbo Man, the must-have gift of the season.

Demand for specific gifts at Christmas is (pun intended) a gift to fraudsters who are keen to cash in hot consumer trends.

What's the scam?

Scammers hook you into fake websites claiming to sell items such as clothing, games consoles and other desirable goods, which never arrive.

3. Christmas Delivery scams

Chances are you've ordered a package or two as we head towards the festive season. But, unfortunately, the scammers know this and are waiting to cash in.

What's the scam?

You'll receive an email (or text) letting you know that you've received a parcel or are due to receive one. There are many varieties of this scam. One from the Post Office, for example, asks you to enter personal information that it requires before it can send your parcel. The report includes personally sensitive information such as a bank account detail or date of birth.

Later, you will receive a phone call from scammers who will use this information to convince you they are your bank and empty your account. Similar scams, saying you have a parcel, may appear to come from Hermes, DPD and amazon.

4. A surprise delivery from amazon

You might receive an amazon delivery you weren't expecting as part of a so-called amazon "brushing" scam.

What's the scam?

Amazon Marketplace sellers send packages (often from China) to boost their sales volumes and reviews. Consumer champion, Which? logged deliveries of goods from fake eyelashes to bath mats and fairy lights. These scams aim to boost ratings and trick others into buying sub-standard products.

5. E-greetings with a nasty surprise

We all love to receive a Christmas message from a loved one or a long lost friend but beware of e-greetings during the festive period.

What's the scam?

You might receive an e-greeting reportedly containing a gift card from Amazon or another online store. Often, these messages contain malware, which will mine your email for the personal details of others and could also steal your personal information, including personal account details. Similarly, e-cards can contain malware.

6. Supermarket scams

Are you planning a Christmas feast this Christmas? These scams will offer a voucher to help you foot the bill.

What's the scam?

Scammers have sent out a raft of emails claiming to be offering FREE vouchers at major supermarkets. Fake vouchers are circulating claiming to come from the likes of Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Waitrose. Scammers are distributing them via a variety of channels, including email, WhatsApp and Twitter.

7. Refund scams

Did you pay too much for a Christmas gift? Beware of companies offering a refund.

What's the scam?

Scams offering to give you a refund hit Argos a couple of years ago. The cons arrived via text and claimed to provide refunds for several hundred pounds. Unfortunately, it included a link to a phishing website, which encouraged people to enter their details.

8. Website scams and fakes

Watch out for bargains that seem too good to be true - particularly those bearing cut-price gifts.

What's the scam?

There are many ways scammers try to hook you in during the festive season. Some will "spoof" or fake reputable websites, particularly around big days in the run-up to Christmas, such as the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. They tend to focus on big, premium and desirable brands - Adidas, for example, has fallen prey to spoofing, as have many others. The scammers are sophisticated and will grab screenshots from the official site and use logos to create a genuine appearance. Often the scammers will "bait" you through emails that promise amazing offers but ones that are going to expire unless you grab a bargain immediately.

9. Microsoft Technical Support scam

This scam is not just for Christmas but has been prolific for the past couple of years. However, the scammers will know people are on heightened alert for scams during the festive period, so beware of a resurgence.

What's the scam?

You receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming that they have kindly detected an error or security risk on your computer they'd like to help you fix. The scammer then asks for permission to remote into your computer. They may ask you to download special software to enable this, first. Next, they may show you "log files", which are normal but claim these are bugs that need fixing. They will then ask for credit card details to charge you to fix them - or convince you to subscribe to a service that supports you.

10. Facebook Bonus Scams

Generally, we trust people close to us, including friends and family, and this scam seeks to exploit that trust.

What's the scam?

You'll receive a message via Facebook offering a bonus or special discount in time for Christmas. The message comes from a cloned Facebook profile, which appears to be from a friend or relative. It may ask you to send personal information to qualify for the bonus or gift.

11. Banking scams

We may be spending more than usual at this time of year, so we're potentially receptive to calls from our banks.

What's the scam?

Someone calls and pretends to be calling from your bank. They may claim that someone else is trying to get into your account and/or they have noticed suspicious activity. They will ask for personal details such as your account number, for example. They will then walk you through a security process to generate transaction codes to transfer money into another account. It's a way of transferring money out of your account and into their own.

12. Travel scams

The travel industry is one of the hardest-hit by Covid-19, and there's potentially still potential for travel providers to cancel at the last notice.

What's the scam?

Scammers will tap into this and send messages about refunding your holiday, particularly if a supplier sadly goes under.

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