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Warnings raised over Christmas scams

John Fitzsimons
Written By:
John Fitzsimons

Households have been warned about a host of different scams related to the festive period.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) noted that scammers are quick to jump on opportunities to take advantage of people around this time of year, with the cost of living crisis and disruption to deliveries increasing the risks of falling prey to fraudsters. 

Loan fee fraud

It said that a particular concern this Christmas was loan fee fraud, where victims are conned into paying a fee in order to receive a loan which never materialises. It noted that the numbers of this type of scam are up by 21% compared with the same period of last year, according to the FCA, with the average victim losing around £260.

Fake HMRC scams

It’s not just loan fee frauds that are being targeted at those concerned about their finances. CTSI warned that these people are also at risk of scammers posing as being from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). These scams frequently include recorded phone messages suggesting that the victim’s National Insurance details have been compromised, or falsely claiming that the recipient has not paid their tax bill and is about to be arrested.

Watch out for Amazon imposters

CTSI cautioned that scammers are also frequently posing as representatives of Amazon at the moment, in an attempt to dupe people into sharing their personal details. This scam involves sending texts, emails and recorded messages suggesting that the victim’s account has been hacked or their subscription is due for renewal.

Further warnings were raised for shoppers to be cautious around the use of retailer websites, to ensure that they are using legitimate ones. Scammers are known for using close sites to pose as retailers in an attempt to steal financial details.

Delivery scams

CTSI also pointed out that delivery scams are common at this time of year, with lots of shoppers leaving it to the last minute to order Christmas presents for loved ones. These are potentially even more damaging this year with the disruption to the postal service due to industrial action.

Scams may involve a message that a parcel is awaiting delivery, but a fee needs to be paid, or calling for the recipient to enter their details in order to schedule a delivery.

Avoiding rash decisions

Katherine Hart, lead officer at CTSI, said that this year people are under a lot of financial pressure, which can lead to them making rash decisions.

She continued: “We would urge anyone who receives a phone call, email or text message that claims to be from a company or Government organisation to stop, take a breath, and consider whether or not it is genuine. In many cases, these messages are just cynical scams that could leave you out of pocket.”

This year has clearly been a busy one for scammers, with the majority of adults reporting receiving an increased number of scam attempts.

According to UK Finance, a total of £610m was lost to scammers in the first half of 2022