Making online payments can sometimes seem a little daunting with news of scams and fraud rife on the internet. Luckily, there are some pretty easy ways to tell if something is a scam and some tips and tricks to make sure you avoid falling into any traps as Christmas approaches.
This year, as well as the usual Christmas scams, we also have COVID-19 to contend with. With lockdown measures still in force, the majority of Christmas shopping is thought to be moving online.
So here are some of the scams to watch out for, as well as our tips on how to keep your money safe when you are sending money abroad
Sadly, COVID-19 has encouraged online fraudsters. With many people worried about job security and health, there are a number of ways that scammers are taking advantage. Don’t be caught out. According to The Money Advice Service, here are some of the most common scams to look out for.
Coronavirus job scams
Scams involving jobs or job listings ask people to hand over personal details — like bank account numbers — or make a payment as part of the job application. This could be anything from buying a uniform to paying for a security check. Unfortunately, fake job adverts are notoriously hard to spot and often they are the kinds of jobs that ask for little or no experience, so are designed to appeal to those most in need.
Remember: the vast majority of legitimate job adverts will not ask you to pay for anything before you are officially employed by them.
The COVID-19 landscape is opening doors for health scammers too: people who contact you via email, or even knock on your door and claim to be from well-known organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO). They often offer coronavirus tests, or give details of those who have been infected, in exchange for a payment.
There are also scams related to the NHS Track and Trace scheme. Martin Lewis from Money Saving (https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/team-blog/2020/04/coronavirus-scams-protect-yourself/) Expert, explains:
Any official Test and Trace texts will come from the NHS, and calls will come from 0300 0135000. Contact tracers will ask for your full name, date of birth and postcode, and will offer you advice if you have come into contact with somebody who has coronavirus symptoms. They will not:
- Ask for bank details or payments
- Ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
- Ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
- Ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087
- Ask you to download anything or access a non-NHS or Government site
Ofcom is also issuing warnings about texts and emails that look like they are from the government. They can look very official, offering access to government schemes or HMRC tax rebates. Before responding to any emails from the government or HMRC, do your research. Is what they’re offering a real government initiative? If you are in any doubt, look up their helpline number online and ask a member of staff.
Any official text that comes from the government will come from: ‘UK_Gov’.
Bank and stock market scams
Another set of scams that may look official are those belonging to people pretending to be banks. Many will offer financial help (for example, no late fees on credit cards and payment holidays on loans), in exchange for your bank account details.
The stock markets are also suffering at the moment, as a result, people are being encouraged to invest money in lower price shares. These investments will often be described as low risk, high reward, and this is a giveaway: anything that sounds too good to be true likely is.
Global money transfer scams and how to avoid them
5 “Don’ts” when using digital money
- Don’t share your bank or card details over the phone or in an email with anyone contacting you.
- Don’t panic. Receiving an official-looking email can be frightening but take your time to understand what the email is saying and look elsewhere online to verify any contact numbers or schemes even if it looks legitimate. Visiting the official website and calling the official helpline number is always a great way to check if something is real.
- Don’t make transfers in a rush. Often cold callers will try to convince you that you need to act now. You don’t. Take your time to consider what you are being told or asked to do before doing anything. The more pressure someone is putting onto you, the more likely it is to be a scam.
- Don’t listen if you are told that a confirmation code or money transfer control number (MTCN) is needed as this is simply not true. If you send money, it can be accessed immediately without needing a confirmation number.
- Don’t save or submit your card details on any unknown website.
Top 5 tips for beating online scams
Small World is fully financially regulated and committed to providing a safe and secure way for you to send money to your loved ones. See our Fraud Awareness policy for more information.