Lloyds bank has issued an urgent warning to last-minute Christmas shoppers to be wary of fraudsters this festive season.
The warning comes as research from the bank revealed that the number of online shopping scams increased by 20% in December last year, compared to December 2020.
The average amount people were tricked into handing over was £427, while those aged between 55 and 64 lost more than double that at around £1,000 on average.
Lloyds said most of these scams start online via Instagram or Facebook marketplace, with victims lured in by the promise of cut-price or hard-to-find goods.
The most common items reported as part of online shopping scams in a typical December include trainers, clothes, gaming consoles and phones.
Another scam popular among fraudsters at this time of year is known as the ‘missed parcel’ scam, which involves fake emails and text messages which claim a parcel is awaiting delivery and asking the recipient to click on a link to pay a fee.
The website will ask for personal and banking details and fraudsters can then use this information to impersonate the victim’s bank.
Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director, Lloyds Bank, said: “With people especially keen to bag a bargain this Christmas given the cost of living squeeze, heartless fraudsters will be ready to trick unsuspecting victims out of their hard-earned cash.
“Online shopping scams come in all shapes and sizes, but the vast majority start with items advertised on social media, where it’s too easy for fraudsters to use fake profiles and advertise goods that simply don’t exist.
“The safest way to pay for things online is always by debit or credit card, and buy from a trusted retailer. Remember that if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.”
Tips for staying safe from fraud online
Lloyds Bank has issued some top tips for staying safe when buying items online to avoid being caught out this Chritsmas:
Use your credit or debit card
This adds a layer of protection to your money should anything happen.
Check for the item elsewhere
Lower prices can hide scams so see if you can find it elsewhere, scammers can also use low availability to trick buyers.
Be wary of social media posts and direct messages
Search for deals yourself as targeted ones may be a scam.
Make sure the website or seller is legitimate
Look for good reviews for sellers and be wary of mixed or bad reviews
Ask questions before buying
If the seller struggles to give specifics or tries to hurry you, it may be a scam.
Never click on links from messages
Always visit the site even if the message purports to be from a genuine company.