Keep your wits about you: 5 tips to help you avoid festive fraud

As doorstep and phone fraud spike in the run-up to Christmas, we offer some helpful tips for keeping aware of the potential threats.

Telephone

The festive season is a boom time for criminals, with presents lying around people’s homes and savings for Christmas gifts and food in their bank accounts.

Don’t get caught out by scammers and thieves who want to have a very merry Christmas at your expense.

1. Never reveal your bank details over the phone

Scammers know you might have been saving up to buy Christmas presents for your family. They may contact you pretending to be from your bank or the police to say your account has been compromised and you need to transfer your money to a safe account . They’ll then pocket all your savings themselves.

It’s worth noting that no one from your bank or the police will ever ask you to set up a new recipient, send them money or move money to a safe account.

Never disclose your PIN, passwords or bank details to anyone over the phone. And don’t assume a call is genuine by the caller ID. Fraudsters often clone the phone number of the organisation they’re trying to impersonate.

2. Beware loan scams

Christmas can put a strain on your finances, and bogus credit firms are quick to cash in on people’s money worries. Scammers will either send you an unsolicited text message or cold call you to offer you an unsecured loan. If you accept, they’ll charge you large upfront fees. Once the fees are paid, you won’t hear from the company again and you’ll never receive the loan.

3. Check charity collectors’ ID

Christmas is a time for giving, but sadly some scammers are waiting in the wings to take full advantage of your generosity.

Before donating to charity, check the organisation’s name and registration number, and ask to see the charity collector’s ID badge and licence. Be wary of vague statements on collection tins such as ‘for poor children’. Criminals may even pose as carol singers to con you out of money. Genuine charities are registered with the Charity Commission. You can check their details online or over the phone on 0845 300 0218.

4. Don’t fall for a sob story

Christmas is the season of goodwill, but don’t be tricked into letting people into your home you don’t know and trust. You might get kids knocking on your door asking if you want any odd jobs doing around the house so they can earn a bit of pocket money to buy their mum a Christmas present.

But when your back is turned, they could steal your Christmas presents and any cash you’ve got in the house.

5. Keep up to date with the latest scams

Criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to try to get one over on you, so keep up with the local news to hear about what fraudsters are up to.

A recent scam has involved fake versions of Royal Mail’s missed delivery cards being put through letterboxes, conning recipients into phoning a fake 0208 number.

Scammers may even pose as delivery drivers, bringing gifts into your home and asking for a processing fee to be paid by credit card.

Another current scam to be aware of is fraudsters using background hold music to make their phone calls sound more convincing.