Festive scams

Amber Valley Borough Council have teamed up with Citizens Advice this Christmas to encourage residents of the borough to be more aware of scams that they may fall victim of over the festive period.

If you suspect you have been a victim of a fraud or scam, you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Citizens Advice on 0300 4568390. Action Fraud have an online reporting tool, visit www.actionfraud.police.uk. Alternatively, you could discuss your concerns with a member of the Community Safety Team based at the Amber Valley Borough Council offices in Ripley, who will support and direct you to relevant services. The offices are open Monday to Friday 9am – 4.30pm, and 10am - 4.30pm on Wednesdays. Alternatively call them directly on 01773 841652.

There is a huge amount of advice and guidance available online on using the internet and social media technology safely particularly for children and young people. To access this information, enter the phrase 'staying safe online' into any search engine or visit the following sites at www.childnet.com and www.childline.org.uk.

A guide has been produced that shows the latest popular apps that children use.

Police contacts:

  • Facebook – private message to DerbyshireConstabulary
  • Twitter – direct message on @DerPolContact
  • Website - online contact form at derbyshire.police.uk/contact-us
  • Phone - call on 101

Take a digital MOT to find out how to be safer online by visiting www.saferderbyshire.gov.uk/what-we-do/cyber-crime/reporting-cybercrime/digital-mot/digital-mot.

Use the drop down menu below to read more about the various scams that residents are being warned about this Christmas.

Criminals regularly send out bogus "failed package delivery" notifications as a means of distributing malware. The emails claim that, because of an addressing error, a parcel could not be delivered, and you should therefore click a link or open an attached file to retrieve shipping details. The links open websites that harbour malware. The attachments generally contain the malware in a .zip file.

As Christmas approaches, the frequency of these scams tends to increase. The criminals know that near Christmas, more people are expecting packages from friends and family or sending packages themselves. Thus, the criminals tend to trick more people into infecting their computers than at other times of the year. The criminals often try to create a sense of urgency in their bogus messages by warning that a package will not be delivered in time for Christmas if you do not follow the instructions in the email immediately.

Be very wary of any email that claims a package delivery has failed and you must click a link or open an attachment to fix the problem.

Survey scammers also exploit the holiday season. Typically, the scammers will create fake Christmas promotion Facebook pages that falsely claim to be associated with well-known brands.

Via these pages, they will offer you the chance to win Christmas gift cards and vouchers. But, to enter, you are required to like the fake page and share its bogus promotions with all of your friends. Then, you will be told that you must participate in various online surveys or offers as a condition of entry or to verify your identity.

In reality, the promised gift cards do not exist and the personal information you provide on the bogus survey sites will be used to inundate you with unwanted marketing material and phone calls. You may also be tricked into subscribing to very expensive SMS "services". As well as gift cards and vouchers, survey scammers may also offer "Christmas Promotions" that supposedly allow you to win expensive prizes such as luxury cars or game consoles.

By far the most reported scam last year relates to sales through online marketplaces such as eBay. Mobile phones were top of the list followed by fashion products such as jackets and bags, and tech items like iPads and laptops.

Fraudsters try to persuade victims into paying via bank transfer – which is usually impossible to claw back if something goes wrong. But consumers can protect themselves by using secure payment methods such as PayPal while buying items through auction sites. If items seem unusually cheap, they could just be a good deal, or they could be fake versions of the genuine product. Shoppers should exercise caution before rushing into a sale and check things like seller / buyer feedback if possible.

Copycat websites typically offer identical products to the genuine site but at much lower prices or with exceptionally good deals. The site usually processes credit or debit cards in the same fashion a legitimate website though once the payment has been made, shoppers may find they receive poor quality products or nothing at all. 

Consumers can protect themselves by taking a second to check if the site looks genuine and ensuring the URL of the website matches the brand or shop they were intending to buy from. The URL should also be prefixed with "https" and most browsers display a padlock symbol to indicate the site is secure. Fake sites often end in .net or .org instead of .com or .co.uk. Some copycat sites are set up to steal card details from unsuspecting victims, which are then sold on to other criminal gangs.

Catfishing is when someone sets up a fake online profile to trick people who are looking for love, usually to get money out of them. If you're online dating, read these tips so you know how to spot a catfish.

6 signs someone might be a catfish:

  • You've searched their name on the internet, but they don't seem to exist. Check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or they do, but the photos don't match the photos on their dating profile.  Do their photos look too professional?
  • They're asking for money early into your relationship. They might be saying it's to come and visit you.
  • They're telling you they love you, but you've only been talking for a couple of days or weeks. This should set off alarm bells.
  • They're avoiding face-to-face contact, either meeting up or video chats. Suggest Skype or Facetime early on.
  • They're just a little bit too perfect or have a really wild and interesting life.
  • Their stories sometimes conflict with each other, or don't quite add up.

Do you think you've been catfished? If you've been scammed out of your money by someone who wasn't who they said they were, there is help and support available. Get support:

If you wish to sign up to a telephone barring service ring The Telephone Preference Service on 0345 0700707.

Need further help or information?

Contact the team directly on 01773 841652 or email communitysafety@ambervalley.gov.uk