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Helping you avoid scams this Christmas

Sooo it’s spending season. And as usual we’re all out spending our hard earned money on presents this month – online and on the High Street.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Christmas as much as the next dad J but it’s an expensive time L. And losing money to scammers is the last thing any of us need at Christmas.  So while we’re all looking forward to the festive season (and a break from work) bear in mind…

It’s also the season for SCAMMERS, FRAUDSTERS and BLUFFERS

Financial fraud is becoming more prevalent so protecting your money whilst shopping particularly in the run up to Christmas is really important.

I’ve teamed up with Ulster Bank over the next few weeks to contribute to the ‘TAKE FIVE TO STOP FRAUD’ national campaign from Financial Fraud Action UK and the UK Government.

We kicked off on Black Friday (which one you say J) and are creating and posting tips to help keep you safe  – videos, blogs, Instagram stories and Facebook and Twitter posts out with practical advice to prevent scams in the run up to Christmas.

Most people know the basics – that no one should ever contact them out of the blue to ask for their full account numbers, PIN or full password, or ever let someone pressurise them into moving money to another account. Unfortunately, scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated and devious at getting our information and are using technology and social media in very sophisticated ways to target volumes of people simultaneously – hoping someone will bite.  So taking care and thinking critically if and when we are approached on and off line is critical.

So, what are the most common scams? Let’s take a look at them.

  • Social media – or a ‘social engineering attack’. As social media sites encourage the sharing of personal information this can become a security risk for your family and could put your children at risk from adults who could harm them. Always protect and teach your children to protect their personal information online.
  • Mobile & Telephone fraud – Voice Phishing or Vishing occurs when you’re contacted on your mobile/phone and asked for personal information. Frequently the call is ‘urgent’. End the call.
  • Text message fraud – Or ‘Smishing’ occurs by text when you’re asked for personal information, asked to phone a number or directed to a link which may be malicious or a virus when clicked. Don’t click unless you are sure it’s a trusted source.
  • Email fraud – an email from seemingly trusted companies such as a big name supermarket or bank. May be disguised very well and will ask you for personal information.
  • Sim swap – This is a genuine service but sim-swapping is also used by fraudsters to use the services of your mobile, receive and make calls and even intercept information resulting in financial loss.
  • ATM fraud – Skimming and card trapping are the 2 main types. Both use a tiny device fitted to the card slot.  Skimming involves the gadget reading the magnetic strip and a hidden camera viewing the pin number. Card trapping stops you taking your card back out. When you leave the scammer prises the card out.
  • Romance scams – Involves a relationship being built with you via a dating website or social media site. Money is then asked for or demanded.
  • Investment fraud – A scheme or deception related to personal or company investments. High yield investments are popular. Scammers are professional, organised, aggressive and convincing. £1bn is lost each year to investment scams in the UK.


Across Northern Ireland, like everywhere else in the world, people are rushing around present hunting and this is the time you’ll be most vulnerable to scammers.

Ulster Bank are offering this sound advice to shoppers.  If you missed it check out my Facebook Live with Terry Robb Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank Click Here for the replay.

Stop and Think when you receive a request to move money. A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account.

Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.

When clicking on links or files, don’t be tricked into giving someone access to your personal or financial details.

Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

And lastly – remember on your Personal information, always question uninvited approaches just in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.

This blog post is sponsored by Ulster Bank Northern Ireland, I believe it’s sound advice which is why I’m working with the bank on this campaign. As always, all views and opinions are my own.

Stay safe online and off.

Happy Shopping!


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