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Scammers will use Christmas and the New Year to target the Public

Christmas is nearly with us, but it is not only the goose getting fat! Scammers, are ready, able, and keen to target the pubic, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

Fiona Fernie, a partner at the firm said: “Christmas and the January sales may be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but they are also a time of mixed emotions, the desire to buy presents for friends and family, and anxiety about being able to pay the bills. Scammers are just waiting to take advantage.”

She added: “Scamming is a huge issue, which we all need to recognise and take action to mitigate.

“The increase in on-line shopping during the pandemic has provided scammers with an extra opportunity to obtain credit card details.  People have had their online accounts hacked enabling their credit cards to be used which has caused a great deal of distress.”

Fiona said: “There is also increasing evidence of people receiving emails purporting to be from major retailers such as the supermarkets, saying that the individual has been selected to receive some sort of reward for customer loyalty if they just key in their bank details.  Such emails play on concerns about the cost of Christmas and can look very much like the real thing, so it pays to be vigilant.”

She added: “It is always sensible to pay for items online using a credit card rather than a debit card and to check statements carefully each month.  Any item which you do not recognise should be reported to the credit card company immediately for investigation.  In addition, anybody who receives an email or SMS message suggesting that they are due a reward or owe money should take some basic precautions:

  • Use passphrases with a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols when online shopping.
  • Use different phrases for different online accounts.
  • Ensure that two-stage authentication is triggered on all credit cards and online bank accounts – preferably this will include sending a passcode to your mobile phone as well as using the appropriate passphrase.
  • Click on/hover over the “display name” email address from which you have received any email which offers you a reward.  This will show you the full details of the sender and will help to determine whether the email is likely to be from a legitimate source.  For example, I am currently receiving emails purporting to be from Amazon and Aldi but sent from websites and email addresses that are clearly not them

If this happens to you:

  • Do not reply to the emails or SMSs; 
  • Do not call the phone number listed in an SMS; 
  • Do not click on any links or open any attachments in emails; 
  • Do not visit websites detailed in the messages;
  • Do not provide personal or financial details.”

Fiona said: “The problem does not stop with the order process either.  I have heard of several examples of deliveries being made to the doorstep but disappearing before individuals could take them in, so it is clearly sensible to have a reciprocal agreement with neighbours for taking in parcels when the intended recipient is not at home.  Don’t let scammers or opportunists spoil your Christmas!”

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