A number of us may be considering starting our Christmas shopping (or even finishing it) using online shopping, especially with the tempting deals on offer from retailers during Cyber Monday. If you’re thinking of doing some shopping, it’s advisable to be aware of the potential threat posed by phishing campaigns which increase at this time of year. This is due to criminals hoping to cash in – especially where purchases are being made online.
To help you to keep cyber safe and aware during this period of increased scam activity, we’ve pulled together a few examples of the types of campaigns which criminals might attempt to deceive us with, and tips on how you can avoid becoming a victim of them.
Your online shopping account is disabled
Scammers could impersonate online retailers through email or text messages, in an attempt to lure you into clicking links leading to fake websites. These messages are usually vague and might suggest there’s an issue with your account, credit card or order. Be cautious – always check messages thoroughly and if in any doubt, don’t proceed.
Criminals may set up websites which look like a retailer’s official site, or set up a new site altogether in the hope that you will purchase goods and make payment for them – but those goods may never arrive. If you’re considering using a retailer you haven’t shopped with before, it’s worth searching for information (ideally using an unrelated search engine, such as Google) to check if previous customers have received the service you would expect. Also, check web addresses and links carefully – just a single character being changed could mean the difference between a genuine and a fraudulent site (remember www.BOI.ie vs www.B0l.ie ).
We’ve noticed unusual financial activity
Be wary of messages or phone calls which claim to be from your bank or other financial organisations. They could suggest that your account has been locked or your card has been disabled, or they might ask you to move money to a safe place due to fraud. Banks will never ask you for your card PIN or account password in full, nor will they ask you to withdraw cash or move funds to another account for safekeeping. Follow the guidance on keeping your financial accounts safe for more tips.
Please see attached invoice
Criminals could send you emails relating to invoices, where this includes a link to access the document or an attachment. As always, never click links or open attachments unless you’re certain that the source of the message is genuine.
We’ve got your parcel!
Fraudsters may also attempt to send messages about parcels which are due for delivery – these might appear to be plausible at first glance if you’re expecting your shopping to arrive! Don’t be fooled – check the details before you interact and if needs be, contact the company you have purchased goods from (using verified contact details) to ask for delivery updates rather than taking a chance with a suspicious message.
If anyone contacts you and requests that you make any type of payment using a gift card, it’s a scam. Gift cards are an attractive means of gathering funds for scammers, as they are easy to redeem or sell on. Genuine organisations will never ask you to use gift cards to pay taxes, bills or fees – never share the redemption details of a gift card with anyone you don’t know.
These are just some examples of scams which could reach you, or your friends, family or colleagues, but this is by no means a definitive list. The best method to avoid being affected by fraud is to always thoroughly check the details of any website, message or call carefully before you interact or provide any information and if you have any reason to believe the communication is suspicious, don’t proceed.