Online shopping has become the preferred way to shop for people across the UK for a multitude of reasons. On the Isle of Man, although we can be subject to unexpected and quite frankly, unwelcome expensive delivery changes, we still love to spend our pennies online in the lead up to Christmas as much as anybody else.
Research from the Centre for Retail Research found that UK consumers spent £80bn at Christmas last year, with sales in physical stores falling by 2.5 percent. More and more people are turning to their smartphones to do their Christmas shopping instead of hitting the high-street.
The ability to shop 24/7, ability to compare prices, greater variety, better prices and convenience are just some of the reasons why doing our Christmas shopping online has become so attractive to consumers. Although, this means that Christmas becomes an opportunistic time for fraudsters who have come up with more advanced ways to target consumers.
So, how can you make sure to spot potential scams, and importantly, how can you stay protected?
As Christmas approaches, many people will likely be expecting lots of packages to be delivered which also means inboxes will be full of delivery emails. Criminals will regularly send out fake “failed package delivery” emails as a method to distribute malware. Scarily, these emails can look like they have come from legitimate companies.
These emails will ask you to click a link and then take you to a website that contains malware. As Christmas approaches, the frequency of these emails will increase, and scammers will likely create a sense of urgency within them.
When you receive emails claiming a failed delivery attempt, make sure to check that the sender address is legitimate and visit the company’s website to track your order.
Most people tend to feel more charitable around Christmas time and criminals take advantage of this. It is common for charities to hold festive appeals in the lead up to Christmas in order to get as many as donations as possible. Scam emails from criminals will ask you to donate to Christmas or festive appeals.
Like fake delivery emails, such emails will be carefully crafted and will look like they have been sent from a legitimate charity. If you wish to donate to a cause or charity, it is much safer to go directly to the website of the charity to avoid clicking any harmful links.
Another common scam that is seen around the festive period are gift card survey scams. Criminals will create fake Christmas promotion social media pages that then claim to be associated with well-known brands that we all shop from such as Argos, Tesco or Currys.
Through these fake pages, they will offer people the chance to win Christmas vouchers and gift cards stating something along the lines of “all you have to do is carry out this quick survey to verify your identity”.
The personal information that people provide in these surveys is used to send out marketing material and phone calls. You could even be tricked into subscribing to very expensive SMS “services”. To avoid this, be extremely wary of promotions that require you to carry out surveys in reward for luxurious items and expensive gifts.
You may use sites like eBay or Gumtree to do some of your Christmas shopping this year – be wary of items that may not exist or prices that seem too good to be true – as they probably are. Popular smartphones or games consoles may be listed on sites like this for extremely low prices with a goal to tempt people enough to purchase them.
The reality is that most of these items don’t exist and will never turn up at your door, even though you have made the payment. Make sure to check the reviews and ratings of the account you are buying an item from and be sure that they are a legitimate account and it is highly recommended to use PayPal when making a purchase.
One of the latest scams takes advantage of a tool used by many and adopted by large companies like Amazon and John Lewis: the wish list. It appears to be one of the more newer phishing trends that occurs more prominently at Christmas.
As wish lists are publicly searchable, a hacker can see the items you want and will write an email to you saying that one of the items is now 40 percent if you click the link and get the code. Once the link has been clicked, they can trick you into sending your credit card number and other personal information.
Instead of clicking a link that it sent to you via email, go directly to the website of the company it is claiming to be to see if an offer really does exist.
Although many people think they are safe from cybercrime, the statistics tell a different story. A report carried out by cybersecurity firm Norton shows that in 2017, 17.4 million UK consumers were affected by cybercrime with the total cost of cybercrime in the same year being £4.6 billion.
Leading Island IT and Telecoms provider, Wi-Manx, offers a complete service for businesses seeking resilient voice, connectivity, datacentre, managed IT and cloud hosting solutions. To find out more about our solutions, contact us today on 01624 663333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.