More than one in 10 shoppers ‘have fallen for purchase scams’

The Nationwide Building Society said 11% of shoppers told a survey they had been the victims of a fraud.

Christmas shoppers are being warned to watch out for online purchase scams (Nick Ansell/PA)
Christmas shoppers are being warned to watch out for online purchase scams (Nick Ansell/PA)

Christmas shoppers are being warned to watch out for purchase scams, as more than one in 10 (11%) people say they have been duped.

Purchase scams happen when criminals try to tempt shoppers with heavily discounted prices, but the goods never arrive or are fake or shoddy.

They may ask for a bank transfer – rather than payments via methods such as PayPal or cards which could give shoppers greater consumer protections.

Scammers may also clone genuine websites, so it is worth checking the URL and looking for the padlock/https tags which indicate a website is secure.

Despite the risks, about one in eight (13%) people said they would buy items that appear too good to be true, without carrying out basic checks, the research, from Nationwide Building Society found.

With ongoing supply chain issues this year it may be harder than ever to find that must-have present. This may mean people are more tempted than ever to shop on websites they haven't heard of

Ed Fisher, Nationwide Building Society

About four in 10 (42%) of the more than 2,000 people surveyed said they are worried about falling victim to a purchase scam.

Nearly a third (35%), meanwhile, claim they would never fall for a purchase scam – rising to 49% of 16 to 24-year-olds.

Nationwide said its own data shows the highest proportion of purchase scam victims are aged 21 to 30, accounting for more than a quarter (26%) of all cases.

The majority of people (60%) surveyed aim to buy their gifts via websites of well-known retailers. Nearly a quarter (24%) of shoppers will head to social media or auction websites and a fifth (20%) will opt for lesser-known websites.

Two thirds (69%) of people store their details on websites to make it quicker to check out, but Nationwide cautioned this can be a risk if the website is hacked.

On average, people have their details, including card details, on eight websites – while 13% do not know how many websites their details are stored on.

Recent changes in regulation require “strong customer authentication” which helps prevent fraudulent use of card details online by someone else without the account holder’s knowledge.

Shoppers may be asked to authenticate purchases via their banking app or by inputting a one-time passcode sent to them.

Nationwide recently introduced a scam checker service enabling its members to check a payment if they are worried about it either in branch or by calling a 24/7 freephone number (0800 030 4057).

If they check before making the payment and it is given the go-ahead and the member is subsequently scammed, Nationwide will fully reimburse the loss.

Ed Fisher, Head of financial crime at Nationwide Building Society, said: “With ongoing supply chain issues this year it may be harder than ever to find that must-have present.

“This may mean people are more tempted than ever to shop on websites they haven’t heard of or turn to private sellers for a bargain.”

He added: “Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

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