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Cutting corners could see Christmas bargain hunters being scammed, warns bank

Many people are willing to make payments outside an approved app or online payment process to get a deal, research from HSBC UK indicates.

Vicky Shaw
Monday 18 December 2023 12:44 GMT
Christmas shoppers are being warned by HSBC UK to be careful about being scammed when looking for a last-minute deal (Tim Goode/PA)
Christmas shoppers are being warned by HSBC UK to be careful about being scammed when looking for a last-minute deal (Tim Goode/PA)

Christmas shoppers are being warned by a major bank not to be scammed when looking for a last-minute “bargain”.

The average value of payments to scammers over Christmas last year jumped by around £70 compared with the same period in 2021, according to data from HSBC UK.

Its data indicates that, between Christmas and New Year 2022, the average value of a scam payment reported to it was around £826.

This was around 9% or £69 higher than the average reported scam payment of around £757 over the same period in 2021.

The number of reported scams also increased over the festive period in 2022, compared with the same period 2021, meaning that, in total, the overall value of scams reported to HSBC UK was more than a third (35%) higher between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve 2022, compared with the same period in 2021.

We know with increased cost of living, and when money is tight, people are more likely to seek out a bargain, but we also know that cutting corners to cut costs puts our consumers' money at risk

David Callington, HSBC UK

New research carried out by YouGov among nearly 2,200 people for HSBC UK found four in 10 (40%) would consider making a payment directly to a seller rather than through the app or website if it meant they potentially secured a bargain.

But this could put consumers at risk of falling for a purchase scam – where goods are shoddy or never arrive.

David Callington, HSBC UK’s head of fraud, said: “We know with increased cost of living, and when money is tight, people are more likely to seek out a bargain, but we also know that cutting corners to cut costs puts our consumers’ money at risk.

“Our research shows that potentially millions of people are willing to make payments outside of an approved app or online payment process, opening themselves up to scammers who are preying on those willing to take the risk.

“We know that scammers are still present over the festive period, and with busy families who might be more easily distracted they could be easy prey for scammers who have no concern for the mental or financial wellbeing of their victims, or whether it ruins Christmas or New Year.

“They are only interested in getting your money, not the impact it will have on you, your family or your finances.”

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