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Festive Safety with SBD: Scams

Sam Campbell, 14 November 2023

Christmas should be a time of joy, cheer and goodwill, but there are always those who seek to profit at the expense of others.

We’ve put together some top tips on common scams to watch out for at Christmas.

  • Visitors: Be cautious of who you let into your home. During the holiday season, there may be individuals or groups going door-to-door for businesses, charities and other organisations. Always ask for identification and verify the legitimacy of the individual via alternative means – e.g., call using details from the organisation’s website rather than one given by the visitor.

  • Websites: Use reputable online retailers, checking the URL is as it should be. The website should have a padlock icon to the left of the address bar, and https:// (rather than http://) at the start of the address, indicating the site is secure. Look closely for tricks scammers use, such as close misspellings or replacing letters to look like others, e.g. ‘adsa’, ‘arnazon’.

  • Links: Be aware of links in emails, WhatsApp messages, posts and ads online. Hover over the ad to see the location in the bottom left corner of the browser. If you have already clicked, pay close attention to the address bar and whether it matches what you were expecting. Go to the website directly or via a search engine (e.g. Google) if you are not sure.

  • Ads: Use caution when clicking ads on social media platforms. Ensure the page they were posted from is a legitimate business. Scammers create pages and adverts pretending to be popular stores and supermarkets, so if in doubt, go directly to the company website instead of clicking on the ad.

  • Scam Delivery Notifications: Chances are, you’ve bought something online for Christmas. So, it doesn’t seem strange when you receive a message that the delivery company has your parcel, click a link to track, or, more commonly, click a link to pay unpaid charges. Always check directly with the seller and the delivery company instead, finding their details on their website.

  • Marketplace Scams: eBay, Facebook, Vinted – all great online marketplaces to find Christmas gifts and sell unwanted items for a little extra Christmas cash. Be aware that scammers are rife on these sites, look out for red flags (such as ‘I’ll send a courier to you with the cash’) and if something feels off, trust your gut.

  • Too Good to be True? It probably is. Do a little research about the site/page/company/marketplace seller before you jump into sharing payment details. Do they really have that must-have-but-can’t-get gift, for half the price of everyone else? Probably not.

  • Online Gift Exchanges: You know the type. ‘You send one gift and receive 24 back!’ Not only will you lose the gift you purchased, you won’t receive anything in return, and you’ve also shared your personal information with the scammer.

There are countless scams utilised by thieves at all times of year, but especially around such a major holiday. Pay attention to the details, and avoid getting caught out.


For more information, visit our Cyber Security Advice Guide