It could be easy to let your guard down while enjoying the seasonal festivities, but remember scammers will take every opportunity to defraud you, and the festive period is no exception.

Below are five scams to look out for:

1. Delivery scams

Fraudsters pretend to be delivery companies (such as Royal Mail, UPS etc), contacting you via text message or email, stating that they have missed a delivery and to ‘click on the link provided to re-schedule’. The aim of this scam is to gather as much of your personal information as possible, and in some instances, request funds. For example, they may request payment for a ‘change of delivery fee’. When in doubt, always contact the delivery company from the details listed on their official website.

2. Purchase scams

Fraudsters ask you to make a payment for something that does not actually exist. This may include making a payment via card or electronic transfer, often for goods or services advertised on social media sites or other websites. These scams are often only recognised much later, once their victim attempts to contact the seller for an update or a change (this includes fake online gift stores). The fraudsters open bank accounts, often under a false name or using the name of a legitimate company. They then withdraw the funds once received and cut off contact with you. Always ask yourself – could it be fake?

3. A ‘friend in need’ scam

This is when fraudsters pretend to be a friend or family member, saying they have lost their phone or wallet or are stranded someplace in urgent need of help. This is often done by sending a text message from another number to ask for assistance and request money. This is a fear-based tactic to prompt an immediate response, so always remember to pause and contact that friend or family member using your regular means of communication.

4. Energy bill refunds scam

This scam takes advantage of the ‘cost-of-living crisis’ by imitating an energy provider promising a refund. Similar to the purchase scam, this attempts to gain as much information from you as possible. The emails received may also contain a type of malware that could infect a computer or other device. Never use links included in such emails, and always go to the official websites for the organisation they are claiming to be.

5. Charity scams

These scams use the name of a legitimate charity to request donations. They may also request your assistance for someone in need or for a smaller organisation. Similar to purchase scams, fraudsters will attempt to con people into making payments into the ‘charity account’. Always check with the official charity website or page before responding to any such emails.

For more information, visit our protect yourself from fraud page. For other useful tips, see our webinar on fraud and cybercrime.

Stay safe and have a happy festive season.