Lloyds Bank issues warning as nasty scam attacks Britons ahead of Christmas – ‘red flag!’

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'I lost £700 to dark web money scammers'

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Lloyds Bank is taking steps to protect its customers by highlighting an increasingly common type of scam – which can often be sophisticated. Purchase scams involve a person being tricked into sending money via bank transfer to buy goods or services, often advertised online, which do not actually exist. The method of payment also known as Faster Payment is being exploited by scammers, particularly on the run up to Christmas, where Britons are acquiring presents for the big day.

Lloyds is concerned scammers will target those desperate to buy must-have or essential items in the run up to December, but who are now struggling to buy from well-known retailers. 

The bank has already seen a 10 percent increase in purchase scams reported this year – an alarming figure.

As a result, the bank is warning shoppers to stay extra vigilant as fraudsters look to cash in and make away without a trace.

Liz Ziegler, Retail Fraud and Financial Crime Director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Fraudsters are always on the lookout for new ways to trick victims out of their hard-earned cash, and with stories of people already panic buying due to fears of shortages nearer the time, criminals must think that Christmas has come early this year.

“Purchase scams come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s important to be aware that the vast majority start with items advertised on social media, where it’s far easier for fraudsters to use fake profiles and advertise items that don’t exist. 

“When shopping online, the best ways to keep safe are to buy from a trusted retailer whenever possible, and always pay by card for the greatest protection. 

“If you’re unable to do those things, that should be a big red flag that you’re about to get scammed.”

Lloyds said the average amount lost in a purchase scam is approximately £190.

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However, it isn’t uncommon for scammers to walk away with thousands of pounds of a person’s hard-earned cash through one “transaction”.

The problem could be the most severe for those who pay via bank transfer, as this process was not designed as a way of paying for goods and services online.

As a result, if something is to go wrong, customers are provided with little protection and could lose their money forever.

On the other hand, those paying by credit or debit card will benefit from Section 75 and Chargeback rules which have precedent in protecting customers for decades.

Ms Ziegler added: “While the sums involved in purchase scams may not always be eye-watering, losing hundreds of pounds in the run up to Christmas could be devastating for families, not to mention the heartbreak of not receiving that much sought-after gift.

 “Shoppers need to be particularly vigilant when making payments for goods that are in high demand – such as this year’s must-have toys – or where deals look to good to be true. 

“The chances are, if it’s not available at the main retailers, you’re not going to find it for sale on social media, whatever the price.”

While using a credit or debit card is a key way of protecting oneself, there are other ways Britons can strive to stay safe from purchase scams.

Lloyds has warned people to always stay vigilant on social media as this can be a prime hunting ground for scammers to sink their teeth in.

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As a result, deals should always be sought after by a person, rather than relying on other sources.

Any offer which comes in via text or email should always be thoroughly checked to ensure it is genuine. It can be cross-referenced via a website, or if a person calls the sender to find out, using a number they trust, rather than one in a message.

Low prices and great deals can often be too good to be true, and may often be hiding scams. Consequently, Britons should see if they could find them elsewhere.

Finally, individuals are urged to ask questions before they buy and part with their cash. If an item is expensive, people should offer to pay a deposit.

If a seller cannot give a person any details about an item, or tries to rush the buyer into paying, then it is probably a scam.

Lloyds also shared the top 10 most common purchase scams reported over the last three months:

  • Vehicles and parts
  • Phones and accessories
  • Puppies and dogs
  • Trainers and shoes
  • Gaming consoles
  • Clothes and fashion
  • Home furniture
  • Amazon vouchers
  • Watches
  • Event tickets.

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