It may be the season of goodwill, but thieves and scammers never take a holiday.
Follow my 12 top tips to help keep you safe from fraud and scams this Christmas.
Online Shopping Fraud
If possible, use online retailers that you have used before and have a good reputation. Be particularly cautious when purchasing expensive items, especially those items that seem to be at a price ‘too good to be true’
Don’t assume a caller is genuine - people aren’t always who they say they are, and numbers showing in your display can be cloned. Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full password - it’s never okay to reveal these details. Don’t be rushed – a genuine bank or organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think.
Always use recommended methods of payment rather than transferring money direct to a seller. Research the seller before you bid. If available, check their feedback but be mindful this can also be falsified.
Always pay with a credit card; if they don't accept don't buy from them.
Reputable loan providers will not ask for an advance fee. If they ask for an advance fee just say no. Research any loan or investment companies online before making any financial commitment.
Only buy tickets from reputable ticket sale or resale websites that are licensed to resell tickets and offer protection to buyers.
Donating to charity
Visit the charity's website by typing the address into your browser rather than clicking on a hyperlink embedded in an email, social media or online ad.
Mobile malware/malicious apps
Make sure you have the latest software installed on your mobile device for increased protection. Only download apps from official app stores like Google Play, Apple Store and Microsoft.
Links to websites
If you receive a link through email or social media, please be aware, these can contain malware that could infect your computer; e-cards are an example of how this can happen. Always check the sender is someone you trust before you click on the link and ensure your anti-virus is up to date.
Social media scams
Be careful about the personal information you put on your social media accounts. Check your privacy settings to ensure that you are only sharing the information with the people that you want to.
Guard your privacy when chatting online and be selective with the information you provide about yourself. Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust. Trust your instincts, if something feels wrong act on it.
Always ensure that your phone has a strong password, or make use of the biometric settings to safeguard what is on your phone from unauthorised access. If lost or stolen, most mobile devices have the software to wipe all data from their memory remotely - learn how this works.
If you have any information about a crime contact the police on 101 or CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111.