Cheshire East Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.
This week, we are warning residents to beware of the ‘12 scams of Christmas’.
Fraudsters use the festive season as an opportunity to take advantage of others and each year millions of people in the UK fall prey to con tricks.
Scams come through the post, over the phone, by text message, online and face to face.
Anyone can fall victim, with older and vulnerable adults more at risk. That’s why Cheshire East Council’s trading standards officers are urging people to beware of the ‘12 scams of Christmas’:
1) Online shopping: Fraudsters place adverts on websites and send you emails with offers. Clicking on the links may embed viruses on to your electronic device and scammers can then collect your personal data. Always use reputable websites when buying things online. You should also use different passwords for online accounts and look out for the secure padlock in the website’s address bar when making payments.
2) Christmas e-cards: Cyber-criminals are creating their own e-cards, which you do not want to open as they may contain a virus. Be wary of emails from unknown accounts and report them as spam to your provider.
3) Loan sharks: If you do need to borrow some money this festive season, always use a reputable lender.
4) Social media offers: Fraudsters use popular social media sites to advertise offers in the hope people will click on the advert and be redirected to a bogus website, which often contain viruses.
5) Fake delivery notifications: Fraudsters send emails and postcards appearing to be from the Post Office, or other courier companies, saying you have a parcel to collect. They ask you to call them or click on a link and provide personal information to verify the delivery, which gives the scammer your details.
6) Fake goods: The festive period is a popular time for fraudsters to sell counterfeit goods. The items will more than likely be of poor quality and unsafe. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.
7) Ticketing fraud: Only buy tickets from reputable websites that are secure and show a padlock icon in the address bar.
8) ‘Free’ vouchers or gift cards: There are plenty of adverts on the internet, especially on social media. Many are scams and ask for personal details that scammers can use to access your bank accounts.
9) Service station ‘bargains’: Fraudsters commonly offer electrical items for sale, such as televisions, in car parks at service stations for a bargain price. They will show you a genuine item and when you agree to buy it, they give you a boxed television, which is broken. By the time you have checked it at home, it’s too late.
10) Fake charities: Some people may use the season of goodwill to trick you into giving money to a fake charity. Legitimate charities will have a charity number, which you can verify with the Charity Commission.
11) Banking scams: Scammers may call pretending to be from your bank, stating your card has been compromised and asking for your security or personal information. Never give out your full PIN number or security passcodes and check your bank account regularly for any unknown transactions.
12) Fake bank emails: You may receive an email appearing to be from your bank or insurance company, saying they have a gift for you. Check the URLs of emails to ensure they are genuine before clicking on any links and contact your bank direct. Scam emails are usually littered with spelling and grammatical errors.
Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for adult social care and integration, which includes responsibility for safer communities, said: “We hope our ‘12 scams of Christmas’ advice will help residents to stay one step ahead of fraudsters.
“The effects of scams on victims can quite often be devastating, so it’s important that people are vigilant, especially at this time of the year when scams are more prevalent.”
For further winter-related advice, visit: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell and scroll down to the winter wellbeing section. Advice can also be found on the council’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/cheshireeastcouncil and on Twitter via: @CheshireEast
Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.