The festive season brings with it a rise in scammers trying to trick us into giving away our personal details. One of the easiest ways to fool people is via a fraudulent competition scam.
According to Sarah Burns, SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards, these are the five most common scams we all need to be wary of this Christmas.
Facebook holiday competition
This scam tends offer a holiday as the prize, usually to a winter destination such as Lapland or somewhere warm to escape the cold, particularly in early January.
Facebook users will typically be asked to like or share the page in question. Scammers can then sell on pages with lots of ‘likes’, with the intention that the pages can then be used to trick people at a later date.
Facebook gift competition
This is similar to the scam outlined above, but instead the prize is this year’s must-have toy or technology gift – or occasionally a mystery ‘surprise’ Christmas present.
After clicking on the link given, users are then directed to a website asking them to provide personal details. This often results in people being relentlessly spammed with unsuitable and unwanted marketing material.
Email or text competition scam which can also pop up on social media, sometimes through a direct message
The message tells you that you’ve won a competition and that to claim your prize you need to send a prize release payment or delivery fee. You will never see the money again, never mind your alleged ‘prize’.
Advent giveaways are common at this time of year, but if you win something make sure you are giving your personal details to a reputable company and not a scammer.
Gift card giveaway scam
This scam usually takes place on social media or on messaging apps such as WhatsApp. A gift card is offered for a well-known brand, usually to ‘celebrate’ a special occasion such as Christmas.
You’ll be asked for personal details in order to receive the gift card, and these will then being sold on to criminals.
Prize draw scam at Christmas events
A popular scam at Christmas involves you being asked to fill in your details to enter into a raffle or prize draw.
This scam relies on you being full of Christmas cheer, but if the promoter isn’t a reputable business or organisation that you know, the personal details you give could potentially be used to steal your identity.
Telltale signs of a scam
“We are all busy at Christmas and scammers know this and use it to their advantage. Be very cautious about giving away personal details, particularly passwords and financial information – only deal with reputable companies” said Burns.
“Look for telltale traits like unverified pages on Facebook or Twitter and Instagram, poor grammar and spelling, asking for payment and web addresses that are almost but not quite right.
“If you’re unsure, do an independent online search for a company’s website – check if this mentions the competition or prize draw – or check social media to ascertain whether a promotion is genuine or a scam.”