If you’re braving the high street in the run-up to Christmas make sure you keep your wits about you. Not only is this a mega-shopping time, it’s also a mega-fraud time with pick-pockets and credit card swindlers out in force.
Here are our tips to keep safe on the High Street (and in the markets particularly):
1. Keep your purse out of view
Easy to say, of course, but this is a time when you have to be extra-vigilant and keep your hand on your bag and over your purse/wallet at all times. Don’t put money or credit cards in your back pocket either. They’ll be far too easy to filch there.
2. Be extra aware when taking money out of ATMs.
Scam artists are hanging around many of the most obvious ones so try to go for quiet ones that don’t have crowds around them. Beware of ‘helpful’ strangers if you are using a cash machine.
3. Never keep your PIN number with your card
4. Never let your card out of sight
e.g. in restaurants
5. Check your balance and statements regularly
To see if you’ve been scammed or your card has been skimmed.
6. Report it
If you think your card security has been compromised, report it to your building society or bank immediately.
7. Beware Fakes
If you’re buying at markets, and particularly car boot sales – which do often have some great bargains around this time of year – be aware that there are fake, dodgy products around that could be actually dangerous and certainly poor value for money.
The Real Deal
The Real Deal Campaign, which is supported by the Trading Standards Institute, was set up to help shoppers choose markets and stalls that have been vetted by trading standards. You can find which markets are covered by the Real Deal charter on their website.
You do need to watch out because criminals will deliberately copy well-known brands – sometimes even charging a similar price – and it can be hard to tell until you actually use them. The real problem can be with dodgy electrical appliances. The outward appearance and packaging of electrical goods such as chargers and hair straighteners can be copied fairly well, but the internal composition and materials are likely to be botched and could make them very dangerous.
Fakes which you should particularly watch out for this Christmas are:
- Mobile phones, and their accessories
- Ghd hair straighteners – can be electrically unsafe and potentially life-threatening
- Game consoles – faulty or cheaply made electrical components could be dangerous
- Video games – often contain viruses
- Children’s clothing – may be flammable or have hazardous fastenings
- Children’s toys and action figures, which may have loose parts or contain toxic materials.
- Perfumes, cosmetics and personal care items – may not have been properly tested
- Alcoholic drinks – high levels of methanol can be lethal
- Cigarettes – added health risks from excessive levels of tar and contamination with other substances
- Christmas lights and batteries – especially if you have a real tree, it’s just a big pile of kindling!
Generally, if the price looks too good to be true…it probably is.
Also, if you’re shopping online, watch out for unfamiliar sites. The main areas of risk are auction sites and entirely fake websites.
It’s always best to stick to familiar brand-name or retailer websites. Remember that all the sites that are mentioned in MoneyMagpie.com have been checked by us so you can be confident of clicking through to those.
You can also use search engines to research a website to see if people have had problems with them – take a look on forums and blogs to see what people really think.
So shop safe and if in doubt, don’t buy!