‘Red flags’ you need to know to reduce your risk of being scammed

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Every year scams surge ahead of the festive shopping season as more and more people go online to do their Christmas shopping. There are seven common scams to look out for this year. Not all scams are easy to spot but there are five things to check before making a purchase.

Fraud now accounts for a third (39 percent) of all crime according to figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) for 2021.

Sadly, Christmas is the time of year when people could be caught out as shopping has shifted online over the years.

There are typically at least seven scams doing the rounds at Christmas: The Look-Alike Website, the Gift-Giving Pyramid Scheme, the Fake Job Posting, the Grandparent Scam, the Gift Card Scam, the Puppy Scam and the Travel Phishing Scam.

However, experts at Scams.info have provided five tips on how to detect a scam and avoid being conned to try and keep people safe.

Scams.info is warning people to:

1. Pay attention to the payment method
2. Demand current photos of the product
3. Look out for extremely low-priced products
4. Check the seller’s profile
5. Decline overpayments if you’re the seller.

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A spokesperson said: “Often online scammers might put pressure on a buyer not to use a site’s secure payment methods, but instead pay through a bank transfer before the product has been seen or received.

“Coming across such a seller should always raise a red flag!

“Whatever the pre-loved item you’re trying to purchase, demand that the seller send you a recent photo of it.

“Ask them to set the product next to a piece of paper with your name written on it, for example. If they’re unwilling to do so, chances are they don’t have the product at all, so don’t proceed with the transaction!”

They continued: “Products sold for unbelievably low prices are a definite warning sign. Do your research and look around other websites to check the average price of the product you’d like to buy.

“Remember: if the price seems way too good to be true, it most likely is!

“Ideally, the seller should have reviews on their profile from previous buyers that you could go through.

“Also be aware of too many positive reviews which sound the same. Inspect the profile carefully for anything that might look suspicious and if you see something, don’t risk buying from that seller!”

While it might not happen too often, scammers may target sellers as well.

The expert added: “They may pay more than the set price and then say they’ve made a mistake before asking for a partial refund.

“The seller will send the refund, only to discover the original payment had been cancelled.

“If a person is acting suspicious when you decline an overpayment and ask for the correct amount, it could mean they’re a scammer!”

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