This is the ‘12 scams of Christmas’ I mentioned in last post:

Pipers tout fake gold rings as Maids are ‘a-phishing’ to milk bank accounts

On what is traditionally the busiest online shopping day of the year (1), consumers are being warned not to become victims of the ‘12 Scams of Christmas’ and to take extra care with personal and IT security.

The ‘12 Scams of Christmas’ developed by the National Fraud Authority (NFA), The UK Cards Association and the City of London Police (CoLP) highlight the greatest holiday fraud threats and how to spot them.

  1. Shopping and online auction fraud (counterfeit goods and websites)
  2. Credit and debit card fraud (including cash machine fraud)
  3. Scam ticket websites
  4. Lottery, prize draw and sweepstake scams
  5. Identity fraud and theft
  6. Phishing emails
  7. Scam letters (usually from West Africa or Eastern Europe)
  8. Loan scams
  9. Premium phone line scams
  10. High value item scams (shares, gemstones and fine wine)
  11. Rogue doorstep sellers
  12. Slimming and miracle cures.

With just 18 shopping days left and new research suggesting over 90% of people plan to purchase Christmas gifts online this year (1) opportunistic fraudsters are busy ‘phishing’ for their next victims. However, the threat is not only on the web, the high streets are also a ‘fraudster’s paradise’.

Criminals take advantage of those distracted by Christmas festivities: ATM users and revellers hitting bars and pubs are prime targets for ‘shoulder surfers’ and ‘card cloners’. Those undertaking last minute home repairs fall foul of bogus traders, while people purchasing tickets for special events or dieting during the holidays, are also on the ‘fraudster’s Christmas shopping list’.

The National Fraud Authority (NFA), the Government’s strategic lead organisation on counter-fraud activity, is working to increase fraud awareness during this holiday period and has published ‘12 simple tips’ to help combat fraud this Christmas.

CEO of the NFA Dr Bernard Herdan said: “One of the greatest barriers we have in educating people about fraud is the stigma associated with it. Fraud is not a victimless crime. In some cases it destroys lives. Listen to the warnings. Be aware. Once you are defrauded, your personal details can end up on a ‘suckers list’. They can then be traded on the internet. So it may not be a Happy New Year for you!

“Some simple ground rules are to always consider your card details as cash. In the hands of criminals it makes no difference, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC, who oversees the NFA said: “Fraudsters don’t take Christmas off. They use the holidays to develop new ways to steal. Counter-fraud agencies have issued this warning to protect us all, and it’s important we act on their simple, straightforward advice. If people don’t, they could well pay the price. Give yourself a present – be safe this Christmas.”

The UK Cards Association has recently launched its 2009 ‘Be Card Smart Online’ campaign website to help consumers minimise their chances of being a victim of card fraud online.

Head of Fraud Control at The UK Cards Association Katy Worobec said: “More than 32 million of us now shop online, and we all need to work together in the fight against fraud. Consumers can play their part by regularly updating their computer’s anti-virus systems, looking for the padlock on sites when online and registering with card protection initiatives such as Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode. Top tips can be found in our Don’t Reward Fraud booklet at”

City of London Police, the Lead Force on Fraud, is taking the opportunity to remind people to protect their PIN number when using ATMs or when paying by credit or debit card in restaurants, bars and clubs over Christmas. Its warning comes as part of an ongoing operation to combat ‘shoulder surfers’ who note personal identity numbers (PINs), steal wallets and hand bags and then empty bank accounts before the victim realises.

Detective Superintendent from the City of London Police, Bob Wishart, said: “Criminals involved in this ‘shoulder surfing’ target busy bars where it is easier to operate undetected.

“We are making arrests to stop those involved. However, we know this problem is widespread and that thieves will be looking to take advantage of the Christmas season, as the bars and clubs get busier.

“People should take simple measures: make sure you always cover your PIN number, and keep your wallet or purse safe. I can assure you that criminals are patient. They will wait for the opportune time to steal your wallet or handbag. It only takes a second.”

(1) IMRG tracks online sales using the Capgemini index. It surveyed 2,804 people about shopping habits in the run up to Christmas 2009 (e-Customer Service Index).