NatWest reveals top websites exploited by scammers

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Social networking sites are now top of the list for scammers with Instagram in second place. Common scams on networking sites often feature goods at heavily discounted prices. The seller will often ask you to pay via bank transfer before the goods are received. In third place, eBay continues to be used by scammers and is closely followed by Gumtree. The data is based on the number of scams reported to NatWest from 1 September 1 to November 22 2021.

Jason Costain, head of fraud prevention at NatWest, said, “Don’t let fake influencers or sellers steal your Christmas by sending them a payment for presents you will never receive. It is the fraudsters’ favourite time of year, so make sure you’re on your guard when buying goods you’ve seen on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram.”

NatWest offers tips and advice to help you shop safe in the run up to Christmas:

  • Beware of unexpected emails: Fake emails and texts are doing the rounds – be suspicious of out of the blue emails, texts or phone calls that appear to be from a genuine organisation or company. Fraudsters use these as a way to steal your personal information. If in any doubt, don’t click on any links or download files.
  • Be extra vigilant when receiving emails asking you to update your payment details: Many of us will have received an email from Amazon UK announcing they are no longer accepting UK Visa Credit Cards as a method of payment. Whilst this announcement is genuine, you should be vigilant about emails requesting you update your payment details. NatWest advise making changes by accessing your Amazon account directly and be wary of clicking on any links provided in an email. Phone calls from Amazon asking for personal or financial information, or to update payment details, could be a scam and you should hang up. Impersonation of trusted organisations by fraudsters is a growing crime.
  • Don’t get caught out buying online: Everyone loves a bargain but be vigilant when buying from social media and online marketplaces. Always do your research on the seller and if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is and could be a scam. Check the contact details on the website, if there is no address given or phone number this is an indication that the site may not be genuine.
  • Use secure websites: Make sure the web address in your browser begins with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ at the end indicates a secure connection. Keep an eye out for spelling errors or strange characters in the web address – this can sometimes mean a fake site. However, remember a secure page does not mean the retailer is reputable.
  • Always use a safe way to pay: Pay with your debit or credit card – it’s a safer way to pay and gives you more protection. If a seller tells you they can’t accept a card payment and asks you to send them money directly, it could be a scam. Fraudsters often concoct stories to try to persuade you to transfer your money to a bank account instead of paying by another method – be suspicious of anyone asking you to do this.
  • Don’t give anyone your full details: Scammers are convincing. If anyone, claiming to be from the bank, police or another organisation you trust gets in touch and asks for information such as login details, passcodes, card reader codes, remote access to your device or tells you to transfer money from your account – don’t do it, it’s likely to be a scam.

Get in touch with your bank if you are unsure a message or call is genuine, the best number to call on is 159. NatWest is also offering customers free Malwarebytes software to help with added online protection. More information on how to be scam aware this festive season is available on the NatWest website.

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