Households are being warned not to let scammers ruin their Christmas.
Fraudsters will use the distractions of the festive period to strike, HSBC UK warned.
The bank has compiled a list of “12 scams of Christmas” for people to watch out for.
David Callington, HSBC UK’s head of fraud, said: “Scammers are devious criminals who use a wide range of techniques and scenarios to steal money from you.
“Letting your guard down in the run-up to Christmas could take the shine off your festivities and have an immediate and much longer-term impact on your finances.
“Scammers will be using the distractions of the Christmas period to try and steal your cash. While we all want a magical time, follow some simple steps to ensure you don’t fall under their spell.”
Here are the 12 scams highlighted by HSBC UK:
1. Purchase scams
Scammers advertise goods online to trap people looking for Christmas bargains and will try and trick people into paying for non-existent items. Higher-value scams involving the purchase of fictitious campervans or motorhomes are also on the rise, HSBC UK said. Being asked to pay by bank transfer may be a potential warning sign. It may also be worth checking online reviews to see what experiences other customers have had.
2. Delivery scams
Criminals send fake text messages and emails claiming to be from a delivery company. They say they tried to deliver a parcel and ask for the recipient to click on a link to find out more or rearrange delivery by sharing personal credentials. HSBC said people should not click on the link or input personal details.
3. Hi mum/hi dad scams
Criminals pose as loved ones and send messages out of the blue, often pretending to be children asking for money urgently. People should make sure they pause to verify who it is they are speaking to.
4. Cost-of-living scams
Criminals pretend to be from Government bodies or regulators such as Ofgem, asking for personal details to send out “rebates” or “payments”. Do not reply or input any details, the bank said.
5. “Safe account” scams
Making the most of people being busy and distracted at Christmas, criminals may claim a bank account has been compromised and try and trick someone into sending money to a “safe account” that has been opened for them.
6. Cryptocurrency scams
Fraudsters will offer fake cryptocurrency investments. Make sure you understand what you are investing in, always research the company and check it is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, HSBC said. It added that if someone invests, they should not allow anyone else accesses to their crypto wallet.
7. Romance scams
Christmas can be lonely for some people, and scammers may befriend people online by setting up fake profiles on dating websites, apps and social media. They then ask for money for emergencies or gifts, particularly at Christmas and for supposed birthdays.
8. Digital wallet scams
HSBC said people should watch out for unexpected messages about their digital wallet, mainly if they have not used it recently. Fraudsters are impersonating banks by sending texts saying there is a problem with their digital wallet or it has been suspended or blocked. They will ask someone to enter their details via a link, which they will use to access their accounts.
9. New payee scams
Some customers have received bogus text messages claiming a new payment has been made via the HSBC UK mobile banking app. They were then asked to validate their bank details by following a link to a fake website in the text message.
10. Covid-19 scams
Fraudsters continue using the coronavirus pandemic by posing as trusted organisations like the NHS, banks and even the World Health Organisation through emails and texts.
11. Holiday scams
Christmas and new year often see a spike in holiday bookings – but scammers advertise holidays that do not exist, so research before booking.
12. Invoice scams
With an invoice or mandate scam, the victim attempts to pay an invoice to a legitimate payee. Still, the criminal intervenes to convince the victim to redirect the payment to an account they control.
People rushing to move home over Christmas should remember that criminals may pose as conveyancing solicitors, builders and other tradespeople.
They may also target businesses, posing as a supplier and claiming that the bank account details have changed. This fraud often involves the criminal intercepting emails or compromising an email account.