Bank urges customers to ‘remain guarded’ against scams over Christmas

Santander UK said two customers made claims on Christmas Day 2022 after falling victim to WhatsApp impersonation scam.

Santander urges customers to ‘remain guarded’ against scams over festive season iStock

Fraudsters will continue to prey on people over the festive holidays, a bank is warning, after some customers reported scams occurring on Christmas Day.

Santander UK said two customers made claims on Christmas Day 2022 after falling victim to the family and friends WhatsApp impersonation scam.

On Boxing Day, claims were made for various purchases including cars and games consoles, as well as people reporting ticket scams related to football.

On New Year’s Day, Santander received further claims, including those involving WhatsApp scams, car purchases, and a fake travel agent scam.

WhatsApp impersonation scams involve criminals impersonating people that message recipients know and trust, including family members. They may send a message pretending to be a loved one, leading the conversation towards an urgent appeal for help and a need to transfer money.

Santander data covering December 25 2022 to January 1 2023 shows:

– 61 scam claims were submitted

– On Christmas Day itself, seven scam claims were logged, worth a total of £2,174

– On Boxing Day, 36 scam claims were submitted, totalling £37,884

– On New Year’s Day, 18 scam claims were submitted, totalling £34,533.

Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management at Santander, said: “Christmas should be the most wonderful time of the year but unfortunately there are criminals out there trying to be the grinch who stole Christmas.

“As people enjoy the festivities with loved ones, they should remain guarded against the usual scams that criminals attempt all year round.

Reports of impersonation scams are on the rise Getty Images

“Whether shopping online with some Christmas money or getting offered tickets to sold-out football games on Boxing Day, people should think carefully before handing over any money and remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Our fraud team is here to support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so if you are in any doubt at all, give them a call on 159 before making any purchase.”

Santander, together with other banks, has tips on its website for helping people spot a scam.

Tips to avoid falling for ‘friends and family’ scam:

– Always take time to think before making a payment, particularly if it involves a lot of money. Speak to someone you trust first, like a friend or family member.

– Pay extra attention to the warnings the bank provides when making a payment. They are in place to help people bank safely and avoid being scammed.

– Anyone can be easily impersonated, and criminals can make the caller ID, email address or name look exactly like the genuine caller. So, if you receive an email, text or call, check it is genuine by phoning them back on a known and trusted number.

– Always take time to complete extra checks when making a payment. This is to make sure the person and the payment are genuine. This can be reading reviews, researching companies or websites, and checking the person or company is who they say they are.

– Do not allow anyone remote access to your devices. Criminals can ask you to click on a link or download an app which will give them control over your device.

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