The countdown to Christmas is upon us and while it should be a time to be merry, sadly, it’s also a time for scammers to target unassuming shoppers. The pandemic has seen an unprecedented rise in scams in 2020, so this Christmas our wish is for everyone to stay safe, so check out these tips to stay ahead of fraudsters.
1. Pay by credit card, debit card or PayPal
The safest way to pay for goods is by your credit card, debit card or PayPal, as these all have some safeguards in place should there be an issue with your purchase. Credit card purchases over £100 are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Any issues with goods over £10, paid by Visa debit can be taken up as a chargeback or disputed with your bank. If you are sending money to someone on PayPal for goods purchased then be wary using PayPal Friends and Family as you will not be protected by buyer protection if things go amiss.
2. Don’t be tempted to fake it
Counterfeit goods may seem harmless and a way to save a few pounds. However, fake goods can be extremely dangerous; the reason they are cheap is because they have not been put through rigorous safety testing like the genuine product. Fake copy-cat versions of popular Christmas gifts like Ugg boots, toys, make-up or perfumes have been known to be made up of dangerous chemicals and materials. Counterfeit toys and children’s clothing can contain loose buttons or decorations that are choking hazards or banned chemicals such as lead. Fakes can put our loved ones at risk.
3. Keep all your receipts
Take screen shots and file your receipts safely, this way if goods are faulty or need to be exchanged you will have all the information at hand. Due to Covid-19, a lot of retailers have extended their return/refund timings so double check how long you have and keep all your warranty documents and receipts. If you receive goods that develop a fault, then let the retailer know without delay and keep a record of your dealings with them.
4. Be a shrewd shopper
It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of bargain hunting especially with sales in abundance. A lot of us will not personally make it to the shops this year so if you are buying online make sure you do your research and shop around for the best price. A good starting point is always the official retailer website as well as comparing on well-known marketplaces and online shops. After the year we have had it may be safer to shop local and support businesses who’ve had a tough time.
5. Stay on your guard
Fraudsters use this time of year to target consumers. Be aware of fake websites or sponsored ads on social media. These dodgy websites can be convincing and often look authentic even to the savviest shopper. Keep an eye out for logo’s that look suspicious, spelling errors or blurry images – these are all indicators of a fake website. Only shop on a website that displays a domain name with ‘https’, displays the closed PADLOCK icon, and check the reviews on the website. If in doubt, then submit the site URL to our team at bogusbuster.org to check it’s genuine.
Be aware of phishing emails and text messages from fraudsters pretending to be people you know with ‘special offers’ which are designed to steal your personal details. If in doubt, double check with a family member or friend. It’s always wise (regardless of the season) to check your bank accounts to ensure that everything reconciles and that all your transactions are genuine purchases that you made.
Merry Christmas and stay safe this festive season. More great tips are available at bogusbuster.org.