A warning has gone out to consumers in Nottingham to make sure they don’t fall victim to a festive scam.
Christmas is a great break for families but is also a traditional time for fraudsters to try to take advantage of the season of goodwill.
Nottingham City Council’s trading standards team has pulled together the ’12 scams of Christmas’ to make sure that the festive period 2019 is remembered for all the right reasons.
- 1 Subscription trap: This scam offers a free gift or trial offer. Be wary if you pay postage and packaging to receive the ‘gift’ because you may, without realising it, set up a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA) allowing the company to take any amount out of your bank account at any time.
- 2 Bogus charities: Fake charities prey on the victim’s sense of good will at this time of the year, and their marketing techniques can be very convincing. If you aren’t sure, don’t take the risk.
- 3 Pop-up shops: While these tend to appear more online, sometimes pop-up shops will temporarily take over empty stores at Christmas. They often sell counterfeit or faulty items.
- 4 HM Revenue & Customs: Criminals phone unsuspecting members of the public and claim they have either overpaid or underpaid their tax. Never give out your bank details and hang up the phone immediately.
- 5 Bank scam: You may receive a call claiming to be your bank and reporting ‘suspicious activity’ on your account. Hang up immediately and phone your bank on a number you know to be legitimate – use a phone number from the official website, a bank statement or on the back of your debit or credit card.
- 6 Police scam: Similar to the bank scam, criminals phone members of the public claiming to be from the Metropolitan Police reporting ‘suspicious bank activity’.
- 7 E-greeting (online) cards: Be careful when sending or receiving online greeting cards as they can contain malware which can find address books and bank details stored on your computer.
- 8 Bogus gift cards: Be aware if you are buying these online that they are easy to illegitimately replicate. You’ll lose your money if it is fake.
- 9 Seasonal travel scams: Beware of too-good-to-be-true festive travel offers. Criminals are waiting for you to click on their ‘offer’ links so they can start looking for files on your computer in hope of obtaining your bank details. Be sure to only use trusted online travel agents.
- 10 Delivery scams: With many gifts being sent via postal services at this time of year, it isn’t a surprise if you come home and there is a ‘Sorry we missed you! Please call the number below to re-arrange delivery’ card waiting for you. Be careful to check it is genuine because fake delivery cards are being delivered by criminals and you are asked to call is a premium-rate telephone number.
- 11 ‘Smishing’: Criminals use text messages pretending to be a bank requesting an immediateresponse or your account will be locked. While some banks do send text messages to alert you of suspicious activity, you should never respond by text.
- 12 Romance scams: Only use well-established and trusted dating websites. Do not click on links from someone you do not know or trust, and don’t communicate with anyone away from the site as you could be putting yourself into a vulnerable position.
Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre at Nottingham City Council, said: “We know that people may be tempted by the thought of a Christmas bargain but we don’t want counterfeit goods or a seasonal scam to ruin anyone’s festivities.
“These warnings from our Trading Standards team are worth noting and I hope everyone has a safe, trouble-free and wonderful festive period.”
He added: “We’re not trying to spoil anyone’s fun but this is important advice to get out to the public ahead of Christmas – precisely to avoid any problems.
“The key thing to remember is that if something for sale seems too good to be true, it almost always will be. Beware traders trying to sell you items you’ve not gone looking for – be particularly vigilant with door-to-door salespeople.
“And with electrical items especially, don’t buy cheap. Instead go to a reputable shop with a clear route of return of refund in the case of anything going wrong.”
Anyone needing advice about something they’ve bought can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.