What consumers must know to avoid fraud this Christmas
Fraud is now one of the most common crimes in the UK and very much a threat to our national security. Educating consumers is therefore really important, particularly given fraudsters are always on the lookout for new ways to trick victims out of their hard-earned cash.
In the run up to Christmas Lloyds Bank has been working to get the message out to shoppers to stay safe during the annual shopping rush, and particularly anyone that’s thinking of taking extra risks to bag those in-demand gifts.
Purchase scams are already prevalent this year; we’ve observed a 10% increase. Purchase scams occur when someone is tricked into sending money via bank transfer (usually a Faster Payment) to buy goods or services, often advertised online, that don’t actually exist.
Fraudsters took advantage of supply chain issues during the early days of the pandemic, when many shops were closed and people trying to get hold of items online were forced to pay inflated prices or buy from sellers on social media.
The scammers’ new target is those who are desperate to buy must-have or hard-to-find items in the run up to Christmas, but are struggling to buy from well-known retailers.
Top 10 most common purchase scams reported over the last three months:
- Vehicles and parts
- Phones and accessories
- Puppies and dogs
- Trainers and shoes
- Gaming consoles
- Clothes and fashion
- Home furniture
- Amazon vouchers
- Event tickets
Purchase scams come in all shapes and sizes, but the vast majority start with items advertised on social media, where it’s far easier for fraudsters to use fake profiles and advertise items that don’t exist.
As part of our consumer education focus, our messages are clear. When shopping online, we’re telling shoppers to keep safe by purchasing from a trusted retailer, and always paying by card for the greatest protection.
While the sums involved in purchase scams may not always be eye-watering, losing hundreds of pounds in the run up to Christmas could be devastating for families, not to mention the heartbreak of not receiving that much sought-after gift.
When fraudsters are most likely to strike
We need to make sure Christmas doesn’t come early for the criminals. Our Lloyds Bank research suggests that supply chain issues and people’s shopping habits could leave them more vulnerable to scams, with shortages of in-demand gifts meaning almost two thirds (63%) of Brits say they are prepared to take more risks when shopping in the lead up to Christmas.
As a result, almost two fifths (39%) said they would purchase from anywhere which had the product they were looking to buy, even if it wasn’t a well-known retailer or one they had bought from before. More than one in five (21%) even said that they would not be put off by a website that had either no reviews or purely negative ones.
In fact, around 50% of all scams reported to us relate to purchases with our research suggesting that 10% happen when buying clothes, 8% when trying to book a holiday and worryingly in the lead up to Christmas most (14%) when buying gifts.
The median amount lost in a purchase scam is around £190, although it’s not unusual for fraudsters to walk away with thousands of pounds from a single transaction. Small amounts can sometimes be just as devastating for the individual victim concerned.
of Brits say they are prepared to take more risks in the lead up to Christmas
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