The holiday season is approaching and many of us are already stressed out with reports of shortages from turkeys to Quality Street.
People may need to plan a little earlier or get creative to resolve some of the issues we may face for Christmas 2021.
But another obstacle that we are facing more and more is scammers and cheaters.
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Resolver consumer expert Martyn James speaks with The mirror Check out the latest Christmas scams to watch out for and some tips on what to do if you think you’ve been tricked.
Fake delivery texts
Most people have received some shady messages from scammers trying to panic or get them to transfer money.
This type of scam – called “smishing” – uses relatively cheap technology to send you a text message or an automated call pretending to be from your bank, official organization, or the police.
However, scammers are incredibly adaptable, so we can expect fake notifications of messages (late passports, benefit payments, or driver’s licenses) or Christmas scams like SMS telling you that a package cannot be delivered.
This scam was endemic last year and works by sending you to a fake website where you enter personal information that is used to create a fake identity or steal your passwords.
Articles that don’t exist
Many Christmas scammers work with bait. And given the scarcity of toys to turkeys, there’s a ton of bait going on this year.
When we shop online, we start with the stores that we know and trust. But as time goes by and it becomes harder to find the items you want, people tend to keep casting their nets.
We also tend to check less the more we panic. This opens the door to scammers promoting “in-demand” items.
At the bottom of the website, look for weird website addresses, missing contact details, and vague legal information.
Ask yourself: how did this seller manage to get large quantities of something that big deals ran out of? Be cynical.
Social Media Fraud
I’ve seen so many complaints about social media scam advertising over the past few years that it’s shocking.
Yet more and more people are seeking help after being ripped off online by ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other websites recommending goods and services like YouTube and TikTok.
Companies that advertise on social media are often not as closely screened by the website. They are often based in other countries where the rules on consumer rights are more relaxed.
Most of these companies stay on the right side of legality by actually sending you the “goods” that you buy (not doing so is mere theft). But what you get isn’t always what you pay for.
I’ve seen dollhouse furniture shipped instead of real furniture, a photo of an iPhone instead of an iPhone, and incredibly cheap versions of clothes that don’t even remotely match the picture.
You can complain about these disadvantages to your card provider – you have to return the goods even if they are scrap.
Subscription and voucher traps
As you browse online, you may find that some special offers are available, such as: B. Signing up for some free beauty products or links to get discounts from retailers.
Often these offers are “subscription traps”. These websites will take your information and, after the “free” period has expired, start charging you for goods or services that you did not want or did not authorize.
These fees are monthly and you may not even have noticed the money was leaving your account.
Subscription traps that send you inferior goods at high prices usually come from companies based abroad and are often complete drawbacks.
Membership services such as discounts and coupon offers are sometimes legitimate businesses but will charge you a membership fee each month to receive the “offers”.
Before you register, ask yourself – why does the company need my card number if the goods are free?
Missing buddy cheating
It’s not that difficult for scammers to take control of other people’s emails. In this way, they can target people with certain types of fraud – because they have access to all of that person’s e-mail addresses.
There are times when you will ask for money straight away (usually people stuck overseas and in dire need of help), but essentially these harmless looking emails are meant to trick you into clicking a link that says malware which in turn infects your computer.
So if an old school friend sends you a round robin email out of the blue, don’t click it without thinking.
Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your computer or phone and that you are running regular checks.
Let’s finish with a classic. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a few people on the main street doing auction scams.
Here a man with a megaphone is drumming up a lot with very OTT banter about the huge discounts on things like perfume. The sales pitch goes on forever and the crowd is drawn in.
The real perfume is prominently displayed. You bid and pay for items in a bag, but when you open them the items are either not the same or are cheap copies.
That’s because you are actually bidding for the pocket, not the perfume you thought you would buy. This age-old scam works with henchmen who are “excited” when they get the chance to place their first bid.
The same henchmen can lead disgruntled buyers to back off. Report this to the police if you get stung – it is a fraud through and through.
What can I do if I got ripped off?
There is no foolproof way to avoid fraud, but here are some things you can do:
- Try to pay with a credit card first, then a debit card, as either money can be “reloaded” if goods or services are not provided. You may also be able to claim a refund from your credit card provider if you have a problem.
- Never click on a link in text or an email. Always look for the legitimate website and then contact the company to verify that the message you received is legitimate.
- When you have transferred money, contact your bank as soon as possible and ask them to claim the money back. You have a tight window of opportunity to do this, so act quickly.
- Don’t make online purchases until you’ve checked where the company is based and how you would contact them if you had a problem.
- Before you buy, check out online review sites to get a feel for how other people have made their experiences.
- Resolver helped nearly a million people solve a problem for free in the past year. Contact us here: www.resolver.co.uk
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