With purse strings tightening across the UK, the last thing we all need is to fall into the hands of scammers when buying gifts this Christmas.

Advances in technology, means we have become more likely to receive spam emails, texts, and phone calls, many of which are scams. Some are identifiable by spelling errors and dodgy email addresses, but some scams are getting more sophisticated and much harder to spot.

According to the Office of National Statistics, fraud offences have risen by 25% in the last two years, and with Christmas fast approaching, plus rising energy bills and the increasing cost of living, looking after our money is more important than ever. Here are the common scams to be aware of to ensure your hard-earned cash doesn’t fall into the wrong hands during this festive season…

Parcel delivery scams

Watch out for emails and texts that claim to be from the likes of Royal Mail, DPD, Evri and other delivery companies that typically claim to have attempted delivery and include a link directing you to a site where your payment details are captured. Never click on these links.

E-surveys with a gift card

Scams involving gift cards are increasingly popular at this time of year. Marketing surveys sent via email promise gift cards of up to £100 for high-street shops like Primark for surveys completed and submitted, but these are often phishing scams designed to extract personal and payment details.

Voucher scams

Vouchers for the big supermarkets circulate on email and social media around Christmas, enticing people to click a link to claim their festive food shop for less. Never click the link – if a supermarket is offering a deal, it will usually be found on the official website or app.

Cost-of-living con

It seems absurd that someone would take advantage of the vulnerable during financial crisis, but unfortunately it is very common.  Look out for texts and emails asking receivers to supply bank details to claim the government’s one-off £400 cost-of-living payment. If you receive any correspondence asking for this, ignore it. The payment will be made automatically by your energy provider.

Top tips for beating festive fraud

Never share personal information

Fraudsters do not need masses of information about you to earn your trust – be mindful what you post on your social accounts and keep your privacy settings updated.

Never share information over the phone or over email

Always find legitimate contact details for the company and contact them yourself.

Stay alert

Do not be pulled in by sellers on Social Media promising high-value goods at slashed prices. If something sounds too good to be true, it typically always is. Avoid clicking on anything that just does not look or feel right.

Take time to report your suspicions

We know it is a busy time of year, but reporting suspicious messages or links is the only way to beat frauds in the long term. Scams evolve over time to ensure people keep falling for them. We have no chance of catching scammers if they are not reported to the police.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, criminals are highly intelligent and knowledgeable about the type of people they are trying to scam. Usually targeting people who are not tech savvy, they will pose as websites, banks, parcel courier companies or even HMRC. Being aware of their scams, recognising them when they appear in your inbox or messages and acting accordingly will make sure your Christmas is not ruined by a malicious con.

Social media cyber threats are another particular area to familiarise yourself with. If you need any help with the privacy settings on your social channels, the social media team are always happy to help.