Scams to watch out for in the run-up to Christmas

Don’t let fraudsters ruin your festive season – stay alert to these common scams

From family arguments over board games to gifts getting lost in the post, all kinds of misfortunes can put a dampener on the festive season. But if one thing is guaranteed to cause a blue Christmas, it’s getting scammed. More than £1.3 billion was stolen by criminals through fraud in 2021, and scammers are always coming up with new ways to target innocent people.

Anyone can fall victim to a scam – and you may be more likely to fall for fraud when you’re busy and distracted. So it’s essential to stay alert this Yuletide, even when juggling a jam-packed Christmas to-do list. Help to keep your money safe by reading up on our Top Fraud Fighting Tips and watch out for these common scam tactics.

person holding their phone

Delivery text scams

We send and receive more post in the run-up to Christmas than at any other time of year, which can make us more vulnerable to delivery scams. These are usually fake texts that look like they’re from delivery services such as Royal Mail or DHL, saying you’ve missed a parcel and asking you to click a tracking link. Delivery scams are among the most prevalent types of “smishing” messages (scam texts) and can be very convincing. If you are expecting a delivery and you’ve received a “missed parcel” message, don’t click the link. Use your delivery company’s official website to track your parcel instead.
person holding their phone

“Hi Mum” scam

One of the most cynical and exploitative text scams is the “Hi Mum” scam. Fraudsters may message you via text or WhatsApp, posing as a family member (often an adult child). They’ll say they have a new number because their old phone was lost, stolen, damaged or replaced, then ask for money to cover an unexpected bill. If you get a message like this, never transfer money immediately. Call the existing number you have for your relative or try calling the ‘new’ number you suspect may be a scam. You can also ask the person messaging you to provide your loved one’s name and send a voice note to confirm their identity.
person holding their phone

Energy bill support scam

Fraudsters know how to exploit current events to seem more convincing. As the cost-of-living crisis continues, one scam doing the rounds involves texts or emails claiming that people need to apply for energy bill support or rebates. These messages may look like they’re from the Government, your energy provider, your local council or Ofgem. But they will always be fraudulent as you don’t have to apply for any Government cost-of-living schemes. If you receive a text or email about energy bill support that asks you to provide any personal information (including bank details), do not respond or click any links.
person holding their phone and a pen

“Too good to be true” scams

Broadband and mobile phone scams have skyrocketed in 2022. Once again, scammers are capitalising on the cost-of-living crisis, as many people look to save money on their bills.

You may receive a call from someone saying they’re from a major broadband provider, offering you a surprisingly good deal or generous discount on your current contract. They may also offer you compensation for slow internet speeds. If the caller asks for your bank details, then hang up – it’s a scam. Contact the broadband provider directly instead.

If you receive a call from someone offering you a discount (such as a 40% discount) on your O2 mobile, then hang up immediately – it’s a scam. Remember, we’ll never call, text or email you and ask for a one-time code, password or other security information. If you are unsure whether something is legit or not, report it immediately.

person holding their phone

Fraud team scams

Have you accidentally given any personal details to a scammer? You may get a phone call at a later date from someone claiming to be from your bank’s "fraud team". They will say your bank account has been compromised and you need to move your money into a new account to keep it safe. Don’t fall for it – they’re part of the same criminal gang that tricked you into sharing your details in the first place. Never move money into a new account, no matter how professional, persuasive, or urgent the person from the ‘fraud team’ sounds. Hang up and call your bank via the number on their website or in your app to confirm that your account is secure.

person holding their phone

What to do if you get a scam message

Report suspicious text messages and phone calls by contacting 7726 for free (see the Ofcom website for instructions) and block the suspected phone number. You can report scam WhatsApp messages by opening the chat with the unknown number and selecting Block and Report. If you’ve given away any personal banking information or have fallen victim to a scam, contact your bank immediately and report the scam to Action Fraud. Stay safe – and enjoy the festive season.