Christmas is the time of festivities and goodwill to all – but it also provides golden opportunities for scammers and fraudsters. To help you stay safe this festive season, Simon Mair, our Head of Privacy and Information Security, highlights some of the most common scams, with tips on how to avoid them.
1. Fake invoices
A scam especially prevalent around Christmas is fraudsters sending emails resembling those of a large retail corporation. Nearly every link in it will be authentic and lead to the retailer’s page. But one link, which the email will encourage you to click on, will be false. If you follow the fraudulent link, scammers can access your personal details, including your bank details.
Red flags to watch out for include spelling mistakes, a request for sensitive information or urgent action, and a vague opening address like Sir instead of your name. Think before you click…did I shop with this retailer? Is it expected and is there a reason why they are emailing me?
2. Fake ‘missed delivery’ texts
Another increasingly common scam is fake ‘missed delivery’ texts. These texts often contain a link that downloads banking malware which can steal your banking details, passwords, and other sensitive information. Others tell you to fill in personal details in an online form, and this information is then harvested by scammers to gain access to your bank account and lure you into transferring money.
Always use official websites of delivery companies to track your parcels, and never input personal or banking details into an SMS link.
3. Festive snaps
Posting a picture of yourself at a Christmas party advertises that your home is left empty, potentially leaving it open to theft from anyone trawling social media.
Protect your social media accounts using a password manager and two-factor verification. Avoid checking into locations on social media. Post any images when you are back at home and, when you’re away, ensure you have security lights, and timed lights on inside, to give the illusion that people are in.
4. ‘Smart’ gifts
Many people receive ‘smart’ gadgets at Christmas, such as virtual assistants, smart TVs and even Bluetooth kitchenware. Scammers can hack into these devices and access information about your home or monitor your family’s activity.
New devices should always be updated with the latest security patches available and protected with a long and unique password. Using a reputable password manager is the easiest way to secure your online accounts, including your home wi-fi which is the gateway that all your home devices use to connect to the internet.
Enabling two-factor verification provides a secondary layer of protection so that, in the event of a password being compromised, your accounts are still secure from an attacker. Personal devices such as phones and laptops should have the latest anti-virus protection and software updates installed.
Information contained in this document is believed to be reliable and accurate, but without further investigation cannot be warranted as to accuracy or completeness.