Santa crooks want to get their claws into you

CHRIST­MAS IS COM­ING AND CROOKS’ WAL­LETS WILL BE GET­TING FAT WITH YOUR MONEY – IF YOU LET THEM WARNS TRI­CIA PHILLIPS

Gloucestershire Echo - - YOUR MONEY -

IT’S A jolly time of year for the un­seen Santa’s lit­tle help-them­selves be­cause we are all shop­ping so fran­ti­cally that we’re off our guard. On­line, now their favourite fes­tive haunt, they can eas­ily swin­dle panic buy­ers with bo­gus web­sites, so­cial me­dia scams and auc­tions of­fer­ing dodgy bar­gain deals – par­tic­u­larly on must-have smart­phones.

Then there are clever emails, texts and phone calls teas­ing vi­tal per­sonal de­tails out of you.

And hack­ers sneak­ing down the tech­no­log­i­cal chim­ney well be­fore Santa and into your com­put­ers, tablets and phones.

Not to men­tion big firms mak­ing their jobs even eas­ier with data breaches.

Last Christ­mas was a web­snatch won­der­land for cy­ber crim­i­nals who wrapped up £11mil­lion for them­selves by con­ning more than 15,000 shop­pers, ac­cord­ing to Ac­tion Fraud.

From games con­soles and laptops to house­hold ap­pli­ances and cloth­ing, they have a car­rot to dan­gle in front of you on that screen of yours and will stuff you like a turkey.

And then there are the Christ­mas crooks who like to keep it tra­di­tional. Pick­pock­ets in packed shops, hand­bag and purse pinch­ers in crowded streets, dis­hon­est staff in restau­rants and stores nick­ing your card de­tails.

Lloyds Bank­ing Group said it saw around 25% more card trans­ac­tions in De­cem­ber last year, com­pared to 2016. Losses due to unau­tho­rised trans­ac­tions on plas­tic and che­ques, the most com­mon fraud type, to­talled £358mil­lion in the first half of this year. Unau­tho­rised fraud cov­ers card theft, cloning and data breaches in which the card holder did not sanc­tion the pay­ment.

It now ac­counts for eight out of 10 fraud cases. While most of us hit the shops at Christ­mas, many an on­line crook

prefers to spend his or her spare time ‘phish­ing’ – sneak­ing user­names, pass­words and credit card de­tails out of you through emails or mes­sages. And some are de­ter­mined to have a ‘smish­ing’ time – a se­cu­rity at­tack in which you’re tricked into down­load­ing a Tro­jan horse, virus or other spy­ing mal­ware onto your phone.

De­spite all the warn­ings, so many peo­ple still fall for the bo­gus bank, credit card firm, tax­man or po­lice.

Mean­while the scams be­come ever more so­phis­ti­cated and dif­fi­cult to spot.

Paul Davis, re­tail fraud di­rec­tor at Lloyds Bank­ing Group said: “In De­cem­ber we see more card trans­ac­tions than on any other month.

“And fraud­sters are out there ready and wait­ing to cash in on all the busy Christ­mas shop­pers, ready to ex­ploit any mis­takes in the blink of an eye.

“Crooks are also be­com­ing in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated, chang­ing tack all the time, with some scams so com­plex it can be hard to tell if you don’t know what to look for. That’s why it’s cru­cial for us all to stay one step ahead.”

Be sure you know you are buy­ing from a rep­utable dealer when shop­ping on­line and use a credit card if pos­si­ble

Be­ware of pick­pock­ets when out shop­ping

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