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Author: Damien Hepworth

Keep your money safe these holidays

This time of year, we all either hit the stores to buy gifts for our loved ones, or we head off into the sunset for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. It’s a time when there’s a lot of money being splashed around, and scammers realise this.

So you can safely navigate the holidays without becoming the victim of fraud, we’ve outlined some of the more prevalent and cunning scamming techniques in recent years.

1. Not-so-fancy accomodation

When you’re thinking of getting away, be sure to only use reputable sources to book your hotel and extras. Either visit a travel agent or go through any of the larger online providers. Try to avoid vouchers, travel clubs and anything which seems too good to be true asking for a sizeable deposit up-front. If you have any doubts, contact the hotel directly to verify the deal, and never provide your credit card details or other personal information if you have any doubts at all.

2. Come fly with me

If you’re thinking of heading overseas to see family, or just for some fun in the sun, make sure you don’t rock up at the airport gate with a fake ticket. Fraudsters set up fake booking websites which seem authentic, but check at that the ABN quoted on a flight booking website is genuinely registered to the trader name on the site. It also goes without saying, don’t give out your credit card details unless the site uses secure payment technology.

3. Giving is good, but...

While many legitimate charities do some of their best work at Christmas, scammers use this opportunity to blend in and try to take advantage of your good intentions. If you receive emails asking for charity donations that seem slightly off, double check against the charity’s official website for a similar campaign. In fact, if you’re considering making a charitable donation, approach your charity of choice yourself. This makes it easier to find official donation channels, and removes the risk of falling victim to phishing email scams.

4. Shop between the lines

The lure of a fantastic deal or a lower price is causing more and more of us to ‘go off-road’ and head online to shop for gifts. While this can be done safely in most cases, scammers are able to set up fake shopping websites to mirror a legitimate one, promising value that’s too good to be true. When buying online, you should avoid any arrangement when the advertised price seems unusually low, or when the merchant asks for an up-front payment, or to pay by money order or international transfer. Never pay outside the website’s official payment systems, and especially beware when buying pets and puppies, smartphones and tablets, motorbikes, cars and boats online, as these are commonly used as bait by scammers.

5. Return to sender

Parcel delivery scams are still popular, and can be targeted at anyone, especially at Christmas. Scammers will contact a potential target claiming to be from a logistics company, in the possession of a parcel that they can deliver to you – for a price. They will then ask you for your personal and banking details, with which they can commit fraud and identity theft. If this occurs, simply confirm which company they are calling from, end the conversation, hang up and call the company back via their official number to confirm. If you happen to fall victim, and think you may have provided your credit card details to a scammer, contact The Greater immediately.By using common sense, and following these few simple tips, you should be well placed to enjoy a Merry Christmas, while ensuring scammers spend the holidays empty handed.

Do you have a tip to thwart Christmas-time fraud? Share it with us in the comments below.