The Christmas period is one of extravagance. It’s all about more: more food, more presents, more drinking, more time relaxing in the sun. Unfortunately, alongside the excesses of the season comes a rise in something more sinister – fraud.
Fraud levels have been rising steadily over the past ten years or so. One industry group says that for every $1,000 of payments cleared on payment cards (credit and debit) in Australia, 66.8c will be a fraudulent transaction – nearly double what it was less than a decade ago[i]. And every November/December/January, there’s a small spike that accompanies the period of gift giving, summer holidays and parties.
How exactly are Aussies losing out?
It seems as though every year, crims come up with some new and creative way to relieve people of their hard-earned cash. But there are a few common scams and techniques that pop up year after year.
Christmas is a popular time of year for perfectly real charities to shake their donation tins. After all, everyone’s feeling a little more generous and a little more relaxed. Scammers take advantage of this, plus the fact that people are generally too busy to spend much time with a collector. Fake collectors, representing charities that don’t exist, can be very effective at getting people to drop a few dollars here and there. They may even have a professional-looking ID badge or official-looking collection container.
2.Fake online shopping sites
In the age of Web 2.0, anyone can set up a website. What this means is that there are often very professional and legitimate looking sites, which look just like the real thing, but which will take your money and never deliver any goods or services. Some of these websites are set up to look specifically like another brand’s site, right down to the branding, layout, background images, logo and more. Some sites are simply made to look like legitimate businesses, but offering deals that are too good to be true.
At Christmas time, there are a couple of particularly nasty email scams which can cause more than just financial damage. Recently, Australia Post warned of the resurgence of the ‘missed parcel delivery’ scam. This involves people getting an email in their inbox fraudulently claiming that they’ve got a parcel waiting at the post office, and they have to pay a fee to have it released. The emails may look a bit like this:
When the email attachment is opened, instead of revealing parcel details, it loads malware on to the computer. Sometimes this is ransomware, which effectively hijacks the computer until a ransom is paid to the fraudster. The damage may continue once the ransom is paid; expensive repair and data retrieval services may be necessary.
Scams like these, and other incidences of fraud, affect around 5% of the population. Chances are, someone amongst your staff will suffer in the future, unless they’re well prepared. And the stats suggest that they’ll not only lose money, they’ll spend about 18 hours dealing with the consequences – time that could chip in to their working hours.
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