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The 12 scams of Christmas

It's the season to be jolly but do you really want to give presents to cybercriminals?

Christmas scams - woman using a laptop.
Cybercriminals are incredibly adaptable (especially at Christmas) so expect to receive fake alerts via email, text or social media about things in the news like Covid19 or severe weather warnings or perhaps adverts on half price Nintendo Switches or a text from the post office telling you your parcel couldn't be delivered. Each will ask you to click a link to provide personal details. Stay alert and don't respond!

When shopping online to get those important presents, we tend to start with the shops we know and trust but if we can't get what we want, people tend to cast their nets a little wider to shops that we don't recognise. This opens the door for fraudsters advertising 'in-demand' items. Its quite easy to clone a website so be careful which ones you visit.

Remember, the internet is awash with fake goods. One of the main tell-tale signs is if the product is suspiciously cheap. Look out for the 's' in 'https' at the beginning of a website address that identifies the website as secure. No 's', no shopping!

Get the warning bells ringing! Don't let criminals ruin the festive spirit

  1. Fake websites
    Using the web to buy Christmas presents? Criminals set up fake websites that look identical to steal your personal details and money. Secure website addresses start with 'https' and display a locked padlock.
  2. IT support scams
    IT support scams could be via a phone call or email stating there is something wrong with your computer and needs fixing. They will try to direct you to a bogus website. Companies like Microsoft will NEVER call you directly.
  3. Fake charities
    Watch out for criminals using a legitimate charity's name and appealing on their behalf, for a donation. If suspicious, ask to see their official charity ID which they're required to carry. TRUST your instincts.
  4. Refund scams
    You may receive an email or text pretending to be from the Council or a well-known store promising a credit or tax refund and a link to click to claim the money back. They'll ask for bank details. DON'T give them out.
  5. Phishing emails
    Criminals send emails that look genuine to make you click on a link to a fake site, or open an attachment that infects your machine with a virus. They will make you panic and rush your decision. THINK before clicking.
  6. Gift card scams
    Received an email from a friend asking to buy gift cards for them? Criminals clone and pretend to be people you know to get you to do this. They are after the code on the card to spend the money. DON'T do it.
  7. Brexit scams
    Criminals contact victims to suggest making "No lose" investment to help capitalise on Brexit. They also pose as HM Revenue & Customs to get payments off businesses to register for trading. DON'T.
  8. Covid19 scams
    Received a telephone call from Swansea Council identifying you as a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19? We will provide advice and ask some personal questions like your address. We WILL NOT ask for financial details.
  9. Phone scams
    Criminals ring you to discuss a topic then ask you to press a number on your phone keypad to 'opt out' of a survey for example. It will generate extreme charges which the criminals will profit from. Just put the phone down.
  10. Ecard scams
    Watch for those e-cards you receive online. It could be infected with a virus that could shut down your device and you could be held to ransom to restore files. Get an anti-virus installed that will alert you.
  11. Fake romance
    Looking for festive love online? Criminals are. The relationship develops over time and the individual is convinced to make payments to the criminal - DON'T pay them anything. They're also after your identity. Guard your privacy.
  12. Shopping scams
    Love top brands with low prices? Stay vigilant for counterfeit goods. These range from poorly made clothes to dangerous electronics which fail to comply with safety laws. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Reporting and further advice

Do you know a business that may need help with cyber-crime?

The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales is there to help Welsh businesses protect themselves against cybercrime. It provides free and affordable cyber resilience guidance designed to help protect from attacks. Visitors to their website will also be able to download their 'Little Book of Cyber Scams', a dedicated booklet which highlights the techniques criminals will use to try to steal from and exploit you.

Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales (opens new window)

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) helps protect individuals

The NCSC provides expertise advice and guidance on cyber security to help make the UK the safest place to live and work online. They will help protect you and your family and the technology you rely on.

Cyber security is important because smartphones, computers and the internet are now such a fundamental part of modern life, that it's difficult to imagine how we'd function without them. From online banking and shopping, to email and social media, it's more important than ever to take steps that can prevent cyber criminals getting hold of our accounts, data, and devices.

Having problems with any of the following? The NCSC can advise:

  • My email account has been hacked. I am worried that my banking details have been stolen.
  • I have malware (malicious software) on my device. Should I pay a ransom to unlock my computer?

Worried about an email you have received asking for sensitive information or encouraging you to visit a fake website or threatening you with a fake video they have of you, forward them to the NCSC -

National Cyber Security Centre (opens new window)

Need advice on doorstop crime and scams?

Our trading standards department are here to help our residents and businesses with advice and guidance on scams, doorstep crime, street trading etc: Trading Standards

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