Common Christmas scams and how to avoid them

Common Christmas scams and how to avoid them

Last updated: 15/12/2022

The weeks before Christmas can turn into a mad dash, as you aim to finish your shopping and prepare for the festive season. There’s always another gift to buy or something else you’ve forgotten. 

Sadly, fraudsters are only too aware of this. They know that everyone is busy, inundated with special offers, promotions and invites. Criminals take advantage and use these for opportunities to scam unsuspecting shoppers. 

Here are some scams to look out for and tips to help avoid becoming a victim.

Phishing emails or texts

Some of the emails or texts you receive about seemingly amazing offers may contain links to fake websites.

If you’re unsure, don't use the link and visit the website directly instead. You can also forward dodgy-looking emails to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at and report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726.

Dodgy discounts

Scammers use discount codes to ask for your personal information and then share it with other criminals.

So, if a website offers a discount code that looks particularly amazing, could it be too good to be true? Think twice and check the authenticity of the site and the offer before entering your details online.

Fake tickets

In fake ticket scams, you’re offered the chance to buy tickets to a popular event, often from a fake website that may look genuine. The real event is often actually sold-out, or the tickets haven’t officially gone on sale yet.

You may pay for the tickets but they are never delivered; or you may receive tickets, but they turn out to be fake. You may not even realise until you turn up at the event.

If you come across a convincing-looking website that you’re unsure of or it sounds too good to be true, leave it immediately. Check with the event organiser, promoter or venue how and when tickets are being sold.

Fake delivery messages

The fake postal delivery text is another festive favourite among crooks.

Hoping you’ll have lost track of all the deliveries you’re expecting, they send you a text or email to say that a parcel couldn’t be delivered. The message includes a link to a site - which is in fact fake - where you’ll be asked to pay a charge in order for the item to be delivered. It may only be a small fee. But when you pay the amount, you are revealing your bank or card details to the fraudsters.

Charity donation scams

In the run-up to Christmas, fraudsters may also take advantage of people giving money to good causes. They may claim to be raising money for a fake charity or impersonate a well-known charity.

To help avoid being taken in by this sort of scam, when you meet a fundraiser in-person, check their credentials - street collectors should wear an ID badge that is clearly visible, and any collection buckets should be sealed and undamaged. Or when giving online, make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information - type in the charity website address yourself, rather than clicking on a link, and look for the registered charity number on the website.

‘Friend in need’ scams

Another common scam – at Christmas and other times of year too – involves criminals contacting people on WhatsApp and pretending to be their friend or a family member in need.

Criminals, claiming to be someone you know, will say that they are texting from a new mobile number as their phone was lost or damaged. They’ll ask for money to buy a new phone or to urgently pay a bill.

They’ll supply their bank details, in the hope you’ll be duped into paying what they request. If you do, they’re likely to ask for more until, at some point, you realise it was a scam all along. 

Lender loan scams

If you are in need of a loan to help you pay for everything you need this Christmas, then this is another time to be wary of fraudsters.

Lender loan fraud is when criminals convince loan applicants into paying a fee for a fake loan. Of course, it isn’t real and once you’ve paid the fee, they disappear.

Tips to avoid scams

To help avoid becoming a victim of fraud this Christmas and beyond, Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime center, has some basic tips:

  • Set up 2-step verification and use three random words passwords to prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your accounts.
  • Research online retailers, particularly if you haven’t bought from them before, to check they’re legitimate.
  • Use a credit card when shopping online, as most major credit card providers protect online purchases and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances.
  • When you pay online, look for the closed padlock logo in the web address bar, which means your connection is secure.

Click on the buttons below to read more content about Christmas in your home:

Christmas shopping: tips for avoiding stress and debt
Keeping household bills down in the winter months
How to master your Christmas budget

Connect with us
x logo Instagram logo Facebook logo LinkedIn logo YouTube logo