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While you’re busy decking the halls and shopping for presents, fraudsters are plotting how they can steal your cash.

That’s right, the scammers don’t stop at Christmas. As a nation, we lost £11 million to online shopping fraud at Christmas last year.

But you can stop the fraudsters in their tracks if you know the warning signs to look for. So join us as we run through the some of the most common scams to be aware of this Christmas.

Facebook shopping scams

Buying pre-owned gifts can help you save cash this Christmas, but you might unknowingly hand over your cash to a fraudster.

Scammers use social media sites to sell fake goods and goods which don’t even exist. They’ll tempt you in with a bargain price for a high value item, they’ll ask you to pay for it by bank transfer, money, then they’ll disappear and you won’t get what you paid for.

Things to look out for:

• Too good to be true prices (such £20 for a pair of UGG boots)
• Generic product images similar to others online

Phishing scams

With so many retailers filling your inbox with Christmas emails, fraudsters think you won’t notice the odd phishing one.

These fake emails are designed to look like they’re from a genuine retailer to make you trust the sender and click the links. In the run up to Christmas, these emails often advertise unbelievable deals and include links to fake websites where scammers can steal your information.

Things to look out for:

• Lots of spelling and grammar mistakes
• Generic greetings such as ‘Dear valued customer’
• Unusual email addresses, such as [email protected]

Fake websites

Most of us do at least some of our Christmas shopping online. But how closely do you look at the site you’re buying from?

At this time of year, scammers think that you’re in too much of a rush to notice whether you’re buying from a genuine site or a fake one. So they create websites which might look very similar to ones you know and trust, but they’re actually set up to steal your cash and your personal information.

Things to look out for:

• No padlock in the address bar
• Lots of spelling and grammar mistakes
• Web address which looks similar to a real retailer, such as

Counterfeit goods

If someone you know has designer clothes, perfume or electricals on their Christmas wishlist, make sure you buy the real deal.

Counterfeit goods are usually a fraction of the price of genuine ones, but they’re just not worth the risk. People have ended up with chemical burns from knock-off beauty products, fires have started from cheap phone chargers, and some fake goods are so poorly made that they’re unusable.

Things to look out for:

• Unusually low prices for high value items
• Poor manufacturing quality
• Spelling mistakes on labels or packaging

Advance fee fraud

Look out for this one if you’re considering taking out a loan to cover the costs of Christmas. In this scam, a fraudster pretends to be a lender or broker, they offer you a loan, and they ask you to pay an upfront fee to get the loan.

Once you pay the fee, the ‘lender’ will disappear off the face of the earth, and you’ll never get the loan.

Things to look out for:

• Being asked to pay a deposit, an admin fee or an insurance fee to get a loan – no legitimate lender will ask for money upfront.
• Being pressured to pay quickly, and use unusual payment methods (such as Western Union)

Our Christmas scams advice

Make sure scammers don’t ruin your Christmas by being aware of the top festive scams and following our fraud prevention top tips:

• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
• Pay for shopping on your card rather than by bank transfer
• Don’t reveal one time passcodes to anyone, even if they claim to be from your bank.
• Go direct to known, legitimate websites rather than using links in emails.
• Check your account regularly to spot any unusual transactions

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