12 online seasonal frauds
Fraudsters are well practiced in the methods mentioned and simply exploit the high level of web traffic during the holiday period, that’s why it’s important for all online users to be particularly vigilant and to remember to stay safe on line. Below are 12 online seasonal frauds to be aware of:
1. Seasonal fraud: Online shopping fraud & Auction fraud
Online shopping fraud can take a number of guises and people find that they’re defrauded in different ways. Victims who suffer will find that they order goods and that they never arrive. They may also buy items that are far less valuable than advertised or significantly different from the original description. Online shopping fraudsters are also known not to disclose information about a product or the terms of the sale.
People are advised to ensure that they understand how the website’s feedback function works, as this feedback will tell them about recent transactions that other buyers have made.
Further advice includes checking the item’s description carefully and asking the seller questions if unsure. Those who are selling with little selling history should be avoided.
People are also often caught out by faux websites or email addresses that mimic some of the big online shopping sites; they are advised to always check that the spelling of the URL is correct.
If a bid for an item is lost, they shouldn’t be tempted to trade off-site as fraudsters are known to use this method.
2. Seasonal fraud: Phishing Emails
Phishing emails are sent by fraudsters as a way to obtain personal details from the recipient. These emails will often contain web links and attachments which ask the recipient to click on them. This will lead the victim to online forms which they can fill out to confirm their details. The consequence of filling in these forms is either providing the fraudster with personal details which can allow them to access banks accounts or to use information for a fraudulent purpose, or it could result in the victim inadvertently downloading malware to their computer.
Reputable companies and banks will not ask people to send personal or financial information via email; therefore, people should never send personal information to anyone via email, and always make sure they have suitable anti-virus protection software installed on the computer or electronic device.
Fraudsters will send these emails to people all over the world in the hope that they will have success with just a few vulnerable victims.
3. Seasonal fraud: Holiday Fraud
The Christmas period is a popular time of year to book a holiday. Fraudsters know this and will advertise fake holidays that are seemingly very good value for money. People may see these holidays advertised online, or receive a text or phone call advertising it. Victims book these holidays only to find that they don’t actually exist, or that the holiday they think they’ve booked online doesn’t match up to the holiday they end up experiencing. For example, the victim might book a 5 star hotel and find that they arrive at a 2 star hotel.
People can often get carried away in the festive spirit and forget to check essential things such as how reputable the company they are booking with is. People should question whether they are ATOL or ABTA protected – these are two types of travel company regulators. Those booking should always be suspicious if the company encourages cash payments.
4. Seasonal fraud: Electronic ‘e-cards’
Rather than sending out Christmas cards by post, some people now choose to send their cards via email. This is especially the case with businesses who want to thank their customers by sending them a festive ‘thank you’. Most of these e-cards are genuine; however, fraudsters have used this platform as a way to install malware on their victims’ computers. This malware can scan the computer for personal data and then use those details to make fraudulent transactions.
We advise that if people ever receive an e-card, they look to see where it has come from, and if they don’t recognise the name of the person or the company, delete it.
They should always have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on the device. If they think malware has been installed, they should turn off the computer immediately and contact the bank/s in order to change the usernames and passwords.
5. Seasonal fraud: Scams on social media
Social media is now an everyday part of our lives and at Christmas it’s used to send festive messages. A lot of adverts are placed on social media platforms and a lot of these are genuine. However, fraudsters are known to advertise give-aways and offers in the hope that their victims’ will click on these adverts and be convinced by their offer. Fraudsters may also use this opportunity to find personal details on the victim’s account and use these to commit fraudulent transactions. Victims should avoid offers that seem too good to be true and should be careful not to have too much personal information on their social media account, such as date of birth and any other personal information that could be used to access bank accounts.
6. Seasonal fraud: Charity fraud
We can feel particularly charitable at Christmas and may well donate more at this time of year. Fraudsters will exploit this and, therefore, it’s important that people do not stop from donating to charity, but are cautious as to whom they donate to. Before donating, people should always visit the charity’s website rather than clicking on a link that they see. When donating, people should check that the website is secure – this is indicated by a padlock symbol in the web browser window frame.
We advise that nobody donates to charity through money transfer such as Western Union or MoneyGram as this a tactic commonly used in scams. If a victim thinks they have given their bank details to a bogus charity, they should contact their bank immediately.
7. Seasonal fraud: Advance fee fraud (Lender Loan Fraud)
Advance fee fraud is when fraudsters convince victims to make advance or upfront payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that do not materialise. There are a number of different types of advance fee fraud, lender loan fraud being a common method. At this time of year people will apply for loans to cover the increased costs of the festive period. Genuine lender loan companies will never ask the recipient to send money in advance; if you are applying for a loan and a lender asks for an upfront fee, this should raise suspicion.
8. Seasonal fraud: Money Transfer
Fraudsters use money transfer as a means to obtain money from the buyer without ever delivering the goods. Money transfer allows for fraudsters to take money from their victim without a trace, as they don’t need to provide the victim with their bank details and the bank will often have no trace of the transaction. If the online seller ever suggests paying by money transfer, reconsider buying from them.
9. Seasonal fraud: Voucher fraud
Pre-paid cash vouchers are becoming increasingly popular and often used at Christmas time to make online purchases. Each voucher will have a serial number which fraudsters are known to sometimes illegally obtain. When using this serial number, the fraudster will then hack into the victim’s computer and infect it with ‘Ransomware’, which will lock the computer, and ask the person to pay a fee in order to have it unlocked. People are advised that if they’re ever in any doubt about the legitimacy of the voucher, they should always check with the company that has issued the voucher.
10. Seasonal fraud: Ticket fraud
Fraudsters will use this time of year to sell fake tickets. They will often offer them at reduced prices, which make them more appealing to the buyer than the tickets being sold on more traditional websites. People are advised to always buy tickets on reputable and well known ticket sites; if the offer looks too good to be true and the price is significantly different to other sites selling the same tickets, they are likely to be fraudulent.
11. Seasonal fraud: Hacking mobile devices
Trends have shown that mobile devices are likely to be hacked at Christmas time. Hackers will use the data stored on the phone in order commit fraudulent transactions. People are advised not to save passwords or personal data on their phones. People should password protect their phones and wipe all the data remotely if their device is ever stolen.
Further advice on how to protect yourself from online frauds is available at: