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Be careful not to give too much during the season of goodwill

8th December 2010 Print

As the festive period gets into full swing and both physical and online shopping volumes increase, the dangers of the season are ones that no consumer can afford to ignore.

In the first ten months of this year, the 265 plus Members of CIFAS - the UK's Fraud Prevention Service have recorded over 76,000 victims of impersonation (those people whose identities have been hijacked by identity fraudsters) - a surge of almost 12% from the same period in 2009. In addition, cases of Facility Takeover Fraud (also known as account takeover - where a third party fraudulently gains control of a victim's account), have remained relatively constant; with over 17,500 victims recorded so far this year.

These worrying trends have previously been highlighted by CIFAS, in its report Digital Thieves - which particularly examined the online dangers and precautions that can be taken. In addition, McAfee recently highlighted the "12 scams of Christmas" which target the unwitting consumer; from offers for the latest ‘must have' items or discounts that you won't find elsewhere, to unsolicited e-cards designed to install malware into your computers to acquire your online account details.

CIFAS Communications Manager, Richard Hurley, comments: "We recognise that the Christmas period presents an opportunity for thieves and conmen to use a range of tactics - from pick-pocketing to distraction burglary, fake charity collections and domestic thefts. It must be remembered that consumers' digital wallets and identities, however, are equally as vulnerable to a variety of approaches used to steal personal details and funds from accounts. The safety tips used throughout the year become even more important now - because opportunist criminals will actively be looking for potential victims to lower their guard during a season of goodwill."