Be very careful when internet shopping!

Due to our busy lives, and encouraged by the massive growth in online activities due to Covid lockdowns, a significant volume of our Christmas shopping this year is taking place through the internet. As belts tighten and as the cost of living rises, many people will be looking for bargains. These are ingredients which scammers will try to exploit.

New figures revealed victims of online shopping scams lost on average £1,000 per person in the same period last year. This is expected to increase this year. Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should contact their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud – or call 0300 123 2040. More information is available by searching #FraudFreeXmas.

If you have been the victim of fraud and identity theft, your own bank should refund your losses without delay – ideally by the end of the next working day after you report the problem. However, this does not apply if you acted fraudulently or were ‘grossly negligent’ – eg by sharing your pin or password with someone else. If the bank refuses to offer you a refund, your only recourse may be to bring a legal claim against the person who defrauded you – if you can find them.

The position is different if you voluntarily sent out the money yourself, eg to pay for goods on a fake website or to pay a fake invoice, known as an ‘authorised push payment’. Most banks have signed a voluntary agreement to refund you in such cases. However, that is subject to you showing that:

  • you followed any security warnings from your bank
  • you believed the transaction was genuine
  • you weren’t being careless when making the payment

If you are not happy with how your bank or credit card provider dealt with the fraud, you can complain to the bank using their own procedure. If that does not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman.

We hope none of this will apply to you and that it is you and your loved ones, not the scammers, who have a very Merry Christmas.

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