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Christmas Crimewave: Consumers’ Fraud-Fighting

by: Marnie Celedonio

You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why. Cybercriminals are coming to town!.

And, as the most awaited season every year is approaching – Christmas holiday, the time where you get a touch of temptation in finding the ideal present for your friends and families which make a cash cow for merchants, but you might get hasty in managing your money which can lead down to a threatening path towards the fraudsters who also work hard to milk both merchants and holiday consumers.

Earlier this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) warned citizens against the frauds and scams of the upcoming holiday season. So, how can you spot these to protect yourself against cybercriminals?

Here are the common frauds and scams in the Philippines named by the BSP:

1. Identity Theft

This occurs when fraudsters get the personal information, they assume your identity through theft to perform fraud or other criminal activities.

2. Phishing

Cybercriminals send text or emails, or even make phone calls and pretend to be someone else who asks for your bank account details.

3. Spoofing

This is a variation of phishing that sometimes is difficult to detect. A website sends you an email that appear to come from a legitimate or trusted source but is actually created by a fraudster.

4. Text Scams

Random text messages telling the SIM card owners that they have won a huge amount of money from a reputable organization such as your bank or mobile company.

5. Ponzi or Pyramid Scheme

Cybercriminals lure investors with high returns. They appear to be religiously paying the investors during initial stage and quickly leave them empty handed. These fraudsters appear for a limited period of time.

The latest holiday study commissioned by Facebook, which covered the shopping practices of 1,504 Filipinos ages 18 and above in the country revealed that their online activity from October to December 2017 were hugely driven by their desire to shop for presents in time for Christmas season.

The same study stated that people search for bargains to pick up with the use of their smartphones to check the products and brands first even if they are in the physical shop premises. It also showed that Php 17,000 is the average amount of Filipinos are about to spend during Christmas this year and 40 percent of Filipinos who have access to the internet through a smartphone or what they called mobile-first Filipinos who think of spending more than the said amount.

John Rubio, Facebook Philippines’ Country Director, highlighted that through a smartphone you will be able to search the item you want to buy as well as compare prices across brands, making you a well-informed shopper. Hence, get the best offers and deals available.

However, buying online may seem safer than it really is, but it also has its risks. As a consumer, if you’re thinking of hitting the online holiday sales, or having some last-minute present buying to do, here are our tips for protecting your valuable data and money to enjoy a fraud-free Christmas:

1. Shop on trusted websites

Make sure the merchant is genuine – has a good track and reputation before entering any payment transactions. At Christmas, the most expensive time of the year, it is easy to be taken in by a bargain. Great deals can be attractive for you, but you must be careful. In trying to save a little, you might end up losing a lot.

2. Beware of fake emails

Emails sent from fake accounts. Fake email contents. Emails that offer fake deals, such as vouchers, gift cards and giveaways. Tons of emails are likely to be received by consumers every Christmas. Fraudsters like to play number games by sending out large volumes of emails that most of us filter it out or delete. However, they are just waiting for one or two to fall for their trap and then, crime pays.

3. Be protected

To minimize the risk of fraud in making online transactions, make sure that all your payments are secured. PesoPay can help both you and the merchants with its anti-fraud management tools that facilitate online payments securely. Thus, detecting and preventing frauds before it happens.

Your Christmas can be ruined in a blink of an eye by falling victim to a fraud, in fact, it should be a time for fun and celebration. Buying presents for your friends and families should be the most enjoyable and safe experience at the same time, so make sure that you protect yourself against these fraudulent activities when buying items online. And if you do, you will have yourself a merry, fraud-free Christmas.