King's Money Mentors are trained students here to offer guidance on budgeting, planning for the future and how to protect yourself from scams. Below they share advice against common scams around the festive period so you don’t get caught out with a ho-ho-hoax!
Protect your accounts with a strong password and a multi-step https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/moneymentors/ method to avoid becoming a victim of impersonation.
Eleven alarming offers
If you are planning on renting a property, be cautious about making payments in advance, especially if you have not seen the property in person or verified the advert's authenticity. To avoid becoming a victim, you can search properties on the HM Land Registry (costing £3) to verify the legal owner and check property prices in different areas for free on legitimate property websites.
Ten dodgy discounts
If an item is priced well below what you think it should cost, you could be looking at a potential scam. In some instances, websites may offer discount codes asking for your personal information, which may be circulated to third parties. Be aware of filling in your details online and check the authenticity of the site and the offer.
Nine fake tickets
Do not transfer money for event tickets until you are sure the site or seller is genuine as you may not receive them or the tickets might not be valid for entry.
Eight nuisance notifications
You may receive calls or messages from scammers pretending to be public services such as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or the NHS. Make sure to verify messages before doing anything by contacting the service or company directly.
Seven free prizes
You may receive an email or message saying you have won a gift card or prize with a well-known company, sometimes as a reward for being a loyal customer. We all like freebies, but scammers will often use the pandemic as a thank you or say that you were ‘randomly selected’ as a winner. Do not open or click links before verifying the offer with the company directly.
Six weird websites
Scammers can be really good at making fake websites that appear legitimate. Please check that the website is secure, often indicated by ‘https://’ making sure there is an ‘S’ at the end and displaying a padlock in the browser.
Five fake donations
Around the festive period, scammers may pose as people in need. Do not transfer funds unless you are familiar with the charity or organisation and are certain that they are legitimate.
Four shipping updates
Waiting for your online shopping? Scammers can pretend to send you messages from legitimate courier services asking for additional payment. Do not click any links or open attachments, especially if you have not used the service in the near past. If in doubt, call the company to check the authenticity of the messages or to report the scam.
Three dubious downloads
Beware of downloading something free from the internet, such as an advent calendar or personalised photos, as they may contain malware. Be sure to read the privacy notifications first and check the legitimacy of the site and download.
Two social ads
Ads, often special, one-time-only offers can often be laced with malware that can steal your data. Always visit the website directly.
Aaaaaaaand a call log of bogus bank calls
Scammers may pretend to be an employee of your bank requesting personal information. Remember that banks will never ask you account information, passwords or you PIN code via text, email, or via phone call. Similarly, be alerted if you are asked to transfer your funds to another account. If you are suspicious that you are being scammed, disconnect the call, and visit your local branch and call Action Fraud.
For more information on scams, take a look at the King's Money Mentor's blog and the scams-related pages on Student Services Online: