One in five Brits scared of being scammed at Christmas

5 Dec, 2016

One in five Brits are scared of being scammed at Christmas, new research by Nationwide Building Society has found, with many people failing to take simple precautionary steps.

The study of 2,000 UK adults found that nearly half (48%) admit to not checking their current account or credit card statements regularly to compare the details against what they know they have bought – therefore running the risk of not spotting a fraudulent or unknown transaction on their account.

While 55% say they avoid the high street and do the majority of their Christmas shopping online, almost two in five don’t know how to spot if a website is secure or not – identified through a padlock symbol (see top tips below).

For those that do hit the high street to shop at Christmas, one in ten admitted to not shielding their PIN number at all at the cash machine when withdrawing money or paying for a purchase by card, while a further three in ten admitted to only shielding it sometimes.  This creates a risk, especially as close to a fifth have experienced shoulder surfing – someone trying to see their PIN from behind.

And when an offer seems too good to be true, it more than likely is.  More than one in five  have been left disappointed after purchasing fake gifts, or have not received anything at all, after making an online purchase in the hope of grabbing a Christmas bargain.

In the spirit of sharing at Christmas, 15% of Brits share details on social media of what they are up to when either on holiday or making overnight visits to friends and family over the festive period – but experts warn this is potentially giving criminals the opportunity to strike.

Stuart Skinner, Nationwide’s Head of Fraud, said: “Our research reveals people are at risk of being scammed at Christmas if they don’t take some simple preventative steps. With fraud, often the most frustrating thing is that a lack of awareness or lapse in concentration can lead to someone being successfully targeted. We hope that by being aware of a few top tips that shoppers will be in a safer place this Christmas.

“Nationwide, like other financial institutions, has a range of measures in place that are highly successful in protecting our members from becoming fraud victims. However, scammers are always looking for ways to deprive people of their hard-earned cash.

“For example, criminals target ATMs at this time of year because of the increase in use, tied with the fact that in the holidays, people tend to be less likely to check their balances.  This is why we recommend customers check their accounts regularly and shield their PINs in order to limit their chances of being defrauded.”