A Christmas Story from a Former Fraudster to Help You Avoid Being a Festive Victim
After a turbulent year for many, this year's seasonal festivities offer a welcome bit of respite for the public. But as with all public holidays criminality is always lurking in the shadows. However, don't panic, We Fight Fraud's Tony Sales has some great advice to help you keep safe this holiday season, and all seasons!
This year it’s expected more people than ever will be accessing online products and services during the festive season due to the global pandemic. That means a whopping number of people will become a potential victim for fraudsters.
To help protect and prepare the public for this seasonal crime wave, We Fight Fraud has developed a new short video series: ‘The 12 Frauds of Christmas’. It shows 12 scams, hacks and cracks that many fraudsters are employing currently and advises on how you and I, as well as organisations can reduce these potential risks and avoid becoming a victim of crime.
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Our thanks to Dentsu who made this video series possible.
The 12 Frauds of Christmas
- On the first day of Christmas a fraudster sent to me 'A fake Link to a Charity'
Tony's advice: If you are concerned about the legitimacy of a charity you have been asked to donate to use a search engine like Google, search the name of the charity, followed by the word scam and look through the results. If it is a scam, and the charity doesn't really exist, you will often find feedback from others that may have been targeted.
- On the second day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Two Shopping Scams'
Tony's advice: When buying online goods check that the vendor has a good sales history. When in doubt check Trustpilot for reviews and customer feedback.
- On the third day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Three Love Rats'
Tony's advice: When looking for love online it's vital you know exactly who you are talking to. If the person is reluctant to take video chats then there's a chance they aren't who they claim to be. If in doubt, cease communications and report the account to the sites administrators. There is plenty more fish in the sea.
- On the fourth day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Four Spoofed Calls'
Tony's advice: 'Spoofing' a call is where fraudsters will change the number the receiver will see on their handset. The number often imitates that of banks and charitable organisations. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up. Take moment to breathe, and then look up the organisation's telephone number on their genuine website and call back. If the number/caller is genuine the persons or organisation associated will be happy for you to call back.
- On the fifth day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Five Bogus Loans'Tony's advice: Always be wary of companies asking for small amounts of money in return for large amounts of money. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- On the sixth day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Six counterfeit goods'
Tony's advice: When purchasing goods online it is advisable to use a credit card or PayPal account. Then in the unfortunate event you do receive goods that do not fit the sales description, you may be covered by some form of transaction related insurance.
- On the seventh day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Seven phoney tickets'
Tony's advice: Only official ticket vendors should be selling tickets to events. When booking tickets for social events be sure your purchasing them from trusted ticket vendors.
- On the eighth day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Eight phishing emails'
Tony's advice: Have you received that email from PayPal informing you that your account was frozen due to suspicious activity? If so then keep in mind fraudsters will often spoof (create a seemingly identical email address associated to a household brand) email addresses associated to large organisations like Amazon, or PayPal. They do this to trick you into offering personal details in the belief you are dealing with a recognised brand. In reality you are giving your personal details to a scammer. It's best to log in separately to your account and check the issue rather than click the link in the email. Better to be safe than sorry.
- On the ninth day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Nine dodgy letters'
Tony's advice: If you receive a letter through the post from an organisation or company asking for money be sure to call the organisation yourself to discuss the account. But never call the number within the letter. Always search the organisations contact details online to be sure you are speaking to the official helpline.
- On the tenth day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Ten fake vacations'
Tony's advice: Planning a sun-kissed holiday in 2021? If so keep this in mind. When transferring funds online, the bank is not liable to refund the monies if you fall victim to a vacation scam. When paying for vacations ensure you make the payment using a debit or credit card. That way if you fall victim to holiday related fraud you should be covered by your bank.
- On the eleventh day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Eleven IoT hacks'
Tony's advice: The Internet of Things has created new risks. When connecting smart devices to the internet we are adding another possible access point for fraudsters to attack us. When adding that smart kettle or fancy oven to your network be sure to change any default user names and passwords on the device, as well as ensuring the software is kept up to date. This will reduce the risk of outside interference with that device. Sometimes it is safer to just boil the
- On the twelfth day of Christmas, a fraudster sent to me 'Twelve Ransomware hacks'
Tony's advice: If you become a victim of a Ransomware attack never pay the ransom and seek professional advice immediately.
Please take a moment to fill in our anonymous 'Fraud and Financial Crime at Christmas' survey. This will help us better understand and fight fraud in the future.