With Black Friday and Christmas approaching, criminals are again stepping up their efforts to take advantage of consumers searching for bargains.

Social media platforms, online market places and auction websites are increasingly used by criminals to carry out these purchase scams, where a customer pays in advantage for goods or services that are never received.

Recent intelligence from the banking and finance industry suggests there’s been a rise in purchase scams with criminals exploiting consumers shopping online for common Christmas gifts, such as games consoles, bicycles and clothing. These scams also involve home improvement and DIY purchases such as patio heaters and sheds, as criminals adapt to more people staying at home and choosing to invest in their homes and living environments.

Criminals are also using the cover of Christmas shopping deals to roll out data harvesting scams, attempting to prompt consumers to provide details through phishing emails advertising cheap goods and by impersonating organisations and businesses. These scams collect financial and personal information, including debit and credit card details, which is later used to commit fraud.

Consumers are urged to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to:

Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse, or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

You can find more information and advice on how to protect yourself here.

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Scam warning: Criminals may purport to be from Take Five, using our official branding on websites, social media posts, literature, on the phone or by text. Take Five doesn’t provide endorsement or approval for any products/services and would never call or text anyone.