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Consumers reminded to avoid scams as Christmas offers begin

27 November 2017 - 09:14 by Graham Miller

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It is estimated that more than 40 million SMS texts were sent to customers by retailers ahead of Black Friday this year, with experts warning that the festive shopping season is harnessed by scammers to try and con people looking for a bargain.

The Telegraph reports that specialists at Action Fraud urge vigilance among consumers, encouraging them to think twice before clicking any link that is included in the messages they receive which appears to provide details of an exclusive money saving opportunity.

Although plenty of legitimate outlets which offer safe shopping online are engaging with customers via text, the avalanche of messages is the ideal place to hide phishing scams.

In fact, the rise of smartphone shopping has made many retailers opt to use text campaigns rather than sending offers by email. And consumers may not be aware of the risks posed by links embedded in messages.

A report from Barclays claims that this Christmas will see more instances of online fraud than at any point in the past, with texts proving to be an especially effective weapon for cybercriminals, just as they are for retailers themselves.

Those who are unlucky enough to be targeted could find that their smartphone ends up infected with malware that steals private data and even gives crooks the ability to spy on them through the camera, microphone and location-based services modern mobiles offer.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are prime periods for fraud, so those who want to shop online should pay close attention to any message they receive, ignore offers that look suspicious and always shop online through the main site of a trusted retailer, rather than visiting it by a third party link that may end up being a sophisticated phishing scam.