5 Major Christmas tech scams and how to avoid them

18th December 2019

Beware the Christmas grinches! There are, unfortunately, just as many people who want to do harm as there are that want to do good.

As people embrace the Christmas cheer and spend joyfully, it’s always good to offer a reminder of why cyber-crime and security has become such a talking point in our industry.

Consumers and businesses alike have fallen foul of scams – particularly around this time of the year and it’s always good to provide a reminder of the types of scams we could come across and what we should do if we encounter them. Here’s a few you should be aware of:

  1. Make sure you’re buying from a legitimate website

A hunt for a bargain online could result in you searching for a deal off the beaten track and away from reputable websites. It’s good to remember that Secure websites should start “https” and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar.

If you’re not sure about a website first see if there are any independent reviews made by others of the site and its products on the likes of Trustpilot.

What you can do about it:If you’re concerned that a website or any products sold on them may be a scam report it by calling the Citizens Advice Scams Action adviser line on 0300 330 3003.

  1. Be wary of second hand goods

Now is the time when many realise that they can’t afford the full price, especially when it comes to expensive electronic goods. This is what fraudsters are preying on. Some sell faulty goods on social media passing them off to be ‘as good as new’. If a proper inspection is not conducted bargain hunters looking for a deal may be still be ripped off even if they buy the product at a huge discount.

What you can do about it:If you don’t have the opportunity to test the product or if the seller is not allowing you do this, it’s best to just walk away.

  1. Push payment fraud

You may get a few cold calls over the festive period from people trying to sell you something. But some end up being far more sinister. Fraudsters are now trying to pass themselves off as working for bank fraud departments or say they are calling from the likes of the HMRC. They accuse victims of not having paid outstanding tax amounts or warn that their account has been hacked and that they need to transfer their funds to a safe account immediately. Such fraud has been widely reported in the media but there are still many vulnerable people that fall for this type of scam.

What you can do about it:Hang up and then independently find the legitimate number of the organisation they are purporting to be calling from. Don’t trust them to read out the number to you or let them call you back from the ‘right number’. Criminals have been known to be able to clone numbers. Also, if you have fallen for this type of scam report what has happened to your bank immediately. There’s a still a chance that you could get your money back from your bank if you can demonstrate that you weren’t negligent with your money.

  1. Remotely accessing your bank account

Few have the skills to hack into your bank account – that is unless you give them access to information like your username and password. There are many ways in which thieves can get hold of your details. One way they do so is by calling you to claim they’re from a bank’s IT department. They’ll say they want to update your banking software or make up a similar lie. Unfortunately, many will fall for this trick as they send you an email with software to download onto your computer. Often, they will then ask you to input your login details which they will then use to transfer all your money out of your account.

What you can do about it: Don’t take a random caller at his or her word that they are there to help you update your software or whatever other yarn they are trying to spin. Be very suspicious of any such calls and don’t give anyone your password, pin numbers or account details. They shouldn’t be asking for such details anyway!

  1. Asking for ‘fees’ upfront

This is another classic example of a scam. The criminal will contact you in various ways either by email, text or call and claim you’ve won the lottery or inherited millions from your long-lost relative aunt Sophie. All you have to do to unlock the winnings is to pay the company an admin fee for all the ‘research’ or other ‘work’ they may have done on your behalf.

What you can do about it: If you play the lottery on a regular basis you may believe that this may be your lucky day. But, more often than not, this is a scam. Contact the lottery or company behind the scheme that you regularly play using their own contact details that you’ve searched for yourself. Never use contact details or links provided by someone else to verify the legitimacy of your winnings. Most importantly, it’s best to ignore these kinds approaches. If it’s too good to be true, then it generally is!

These days, scams are presented in many different forms – from the simple email appealing for funds to be transferred from a Nigerian princess to a more sophisticated imitation of a recognisable company or government body. The key is to be vigilant, particularly during the season of goodwill.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

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