Online purchase and delivery scams: don't fall victim this festive season

8 November 2021

4 min read

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Online shopping is at an all-time-high during the winter season, with Black Friday sales and Christmas discounts, which are often too good to miss out on. While shopping online can often save you time and money, fraudsters know thousands of people are on the hunt for a good deal over the festive period and use this time as a prime opportunity to not only try and steal your money, but your personal information as well.

Purchase scams

Fraudsters often try and trick online shoppers into making a purchase. This could be via a fake website, or a scam social media account. They’ll even use adverts on online marketplaces (think Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace etc), that typically advertise products or services that don’t exist, or aren’t theirs to sell. If you’re ever unsure of a website’s credibility or authenticity, use a website like Trustpilot to find more information on the company and read other people’s experiences. It’s important to remember for extra protection against falling victim to fraud whilst shopping online, to never pay via bank transfer as this could potentially prevent you from having your money returned by your bank. Using your debit or credit card, or secure online platforms such as PayPal, offers you greater protection if you become a victim of fraud.

How to spot a potential purchase scam:

  • You find a product or service that’s heavily discounted or considerably cheaper than its usual retail price
  • A seller asks you to pay by bank transfer instead of using your debit or credit card or the online platform’s checkout
  • The website that you’re purchasing from was only launched days or weeks ago
  • You receive an email receipt/invoice that appears to be from the website you’ve purchased from (or the payment service you used), but the email address domain isn’t the same as the website. E.g. from @a1rbnb.com instead of from @airbnb.com

Delivery scams

As well as purchase scams, fraudsters also use delivery scams to target people by sending fake texts and emails where they pose as delivery companies such as Royal Mail, DPD and Hermes. Using these fake messages, fraudsters will advise you that they’ve been unable to deliver a parcel you may or may not have been expecting, and that you need to click on a link in the message to provide detailed, personal and financial information to rearrange its delivery. These messages can look very real but no genuine organisation will ask for this information to organise the redelivery of a parcel. If you’re ever unsure, use a company’s official website and tracking services to double-check your parcel’s whereabouts.

Why fraudsters want your information & what they do with it

Your personal and financial information, such as your name, email, telephone and Bank information is valuable to fraudsters. Once these fraudsters have this information they may use it to scam you in the future; using real details and information to make their scams look and feel believable. One common way they’ll do this is by claiming they’re from your bank, or even the police, and tell you to move your money to a ‘safe’ account to avoid fraudulent activity. Again, no genuine organisation will ever ask you to move your money, so never follow these requests.

 

Avoiding fraud and spotting scams

With fraudsters always adapting to new technologies and opportunities, it can be hard to spot potential scams, especially virtually. To stay vigilant in the fight against fraud, use our top tips below to help you avoid falling victim to purchase and delivery scams throughout the festive season and beyond.

 

Top tips for avoiding scams when shopping online:

  • Don’t respond to unexpected messages from unknown sources
  • Never click on links or open attachments that are sent in suspicious emails or texts
  • Check websites for tell-tale signs of a scam – are there obvious grammar and spelling errors? Is the domain name spelt correctly? E.g. 'a1rbnb.com' instead of 'airbnb.com'
  • Watch out for adverts and pop-ups on social media; they could lead you to a fraudulent website
  • When shopping online, research the typical price of similar goods in the same condition, especially if you’re purchasing from platforms such as Gumtree. If your purchase looks too good to be true, it’s probably poor quality, fake, or doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer. Using your debit or credit card, or secure online platforms such as PayPal, offers you greater protection if you become a victim of fraud.
  • If you’re paying for high value goods, such as laptops or even vehicles, don’t pay upfront unless you’ve physically seen the item.

 

Find out more about common fraud threats and how to avoid them.

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