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19 Nov 2021

How to avoid festive shopping scams

Simon Hamm, Fraud risk and future strategy manager at Investec

Simon Hamm

Fraud risk and future strategy manager

Fraudsters use the increase in shopping at this time of the year as an opportunity to scam consumers. Don’t get caught in their web this festive season. 

2021 has been another successful year for fraudsters.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a rise in fraudulent activity, with £57.1 million lost to purchase scams in 2020 in the UK.

Though restrictions have eased, criminals have continued to exploit people who are shopping online more often. As Black Friday approaches with a new wave of festive deals, fraudsters set up a web of fake adverts, websites and social media profiles to try to scam you.

You can protect yourself by keeping an eye out for some red flags:

1. Ask yourself: is this website real?

Try to buy from websites you’ve used successfully before. If you’re buying from somewhere new, check reviews to see if it delivers what it says it will before paying. 

Also, check the website name. The page might look like that of a well-known brand (say, Apple) but the web address won’t be (for example, something like www.ipadoffers.net)

2. Think before you click

Fraudsters can make real-looking promotional emails or social media adverts that can link to fake websites.

Search for the page you want by using a search engine, rather than clicking links.

3. Expecting a delivery?

Links in text messages about deliveries from couriers like Royal Mail and DPD asking for a fee to release a package will likely be a scam

Remember: don’t feel pressured to make a payment. No matter how urgent it is, it’s always worth taking a moment to stop and think about the risks.

4. How are you being asked to pay?

A website that tells you to pay only by bank transfer might be trying to scam you.

Try to pay using your debit or credit card instead or buy what you need from another website that accepts card payments.

5. Keep your personal information safe

Think twice about where you enter your personal information. For example, banks may provide a passcode when you’re shopping online. Never share your Investec online credentials (including one-time passcodes) with anyone.

6. Is the deal too good to be true?

Ultimately, when a product or service sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a product is being sold for an extraordinarily cheap price or isn’t available elsewhere, it may very well be a scam.

To find out more about purchase scams, visit the MoneyHelper. For general information about fraud, please visit Investec’s Know Fraud page, or call our dedicated Fraud team (details below) if you have any concerns.

UK fraud reporting hotline:

Channel Islands reporting hotline:

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