Be Aware of Financial Fraudsters this Christmas

There has been a sharp rise in the number of financial scams and fraudulent activity taking place in the UK, mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us as we provide some tips on how to stay aware of financial fraud this Christmas.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of financial scams and fraudulent activity taking place in the UK, mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With shoppers out in full force, there tends to be a sharp increase in the number of financial fraudsters operating in the weeks leading up to Christmas every year. Join us as we provide some tips on how to stay aware of financial fraud this Christmas.

  • Receiving unexpected phone calls?

    One of the most common financial scams takes place via telephone, as more people tend to be at home to receive telephone calls at this time of year. For example, you may receive an unexpected phone call from an IT company who will explain that your computer or laptop has become “infected” with several viruses.

    They will usually proceed to tell you that you must pay a fee and allow them to gain remote access to your computer, where they will likely try to access personal information, bank details and other sensitive information. Therefore, if you receive an unexpected phone call of this nature, or it’s from a company or organisation that you don’t recognise, simply hang up. Consider contacting your internet provider to find out if any unusual activity has taken place on your connection, as this can help to verify if you are at a security risk.

  • Watch out for fake postal service text messages

    There are several fake postal service text messages circulating as of recent, there are deceptive messages claiming to be Royal Mail that seem to be particularly popular. The technique that is often employed by these fraudsters is to lure people into paying a “fee” for redelivery of a parcel or letter.

    Of course, with Christmas around the corner, many people feel obliged to pay this “fee” to have their items redelivered. Unfortunately, this is a cleverly disguised scam, with the goal of getting the victims bank details. It is always worth ignoring these messages. Instead, consider visiting or calling your local post office or delivery office to find out if they have your parcel or letter.

  • Seen a great deal online? Is it too good to be true?

    In the run up to Christmas, several online retailers will legitimately host several great deals, especially on popular toys and video game consoles. However, it is always worth being aware of fraudulent websites that operate around Christmas time. These websites will post deals that are too good to be true, usually at around 50% of the recommended retail price. Be vigilant when shopping around this Christmas, as if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Use PayPal (Goods & Services) where possible

    Facebook Marketplace and other peer to peer selling sites have become increasingly popular as of recent, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many sellers on these sites insist on collecting items for sale in person, it is becoming more common for people to offer a postage service for certain items.

    It is a great place to find a bargain, especially in the run up to Christmas, but be aware that these marketplaces rely on a high degree of trust between buyer and seller. If you do decide to make a purchase on one of these selling platforms, consider using PayPal and their “Goods & Services” option, as opposed to paying for items via bank transfer. This provides the buyer and the seller with extra protection, and it is often a bad sign if a seller refuses to let you use this payment method.

Prepare for the future

Although you may not be able to save a lot of money between now and Christmas this year, being ahead of the Christmas rush can help to stretch your existing budget. It’s also a great time to start saving up for next year. Ask yourself how much you can save each month and see how a small amount per month can build up over time with our savings calculator here.

  • The information provided in this article is for guidance and educational purposes only. Police Credit Union Ltd. does not offer regulated financial advice. Please seek independent financial advice.

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