Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas

11 December 2017

Author: Claire McCloskey
Practice Area: Banking & Finance


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the season to be jolly… and the most lucrative month in the calendar for fraudsters. However, consumers, sit up and take note – it’s predicted that this Christmas will herald unprecedented levels of fraud, based on findings recently published by UK bank Barclays.

This December, it is anticipated that even more consumers will take advantage of the speed and convenience offered by the internet to purchase those special gifts for loved ones, do the “big food shop” (port wine and mince pies included), book a January detox and send seasons greetings to our nearest and dearest. Nonetheless, consumers shopping online face a myriad of potential scams - including fake websites, email offers linked to fake websites, fraudulent payment services and, most notably, identity thieves seeking to steal personal and banking information. The rise of financial technology (“FinTech”) has transformed our approach to financial services. It has introduced consumers to new products such as faster payments, loan platforms and crowd-funding and has revolutionised the financial market – for both traditional banks and new-to-market innovative lenders.

Nonetheless the growth of FinTech has signalled an accompanying boom in cybercrime and fraud, rendering consumers particularly vulnerable at this hectic time of year. According to an article published by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the most recent crime statistics (for 2016/2017, published in May 2017) reveal that “demand on policing is increasing and becoming more complex as traditional crime has given way to those less visible, more complex crimes such as … cyber-crime”. Banks have recognised the high risk posed to consumers and some have visibly and publicly taken steps to address these perils. Barclays recently launched a proactive fraud prevention service which warns a customer that they may have been targeted by fraudsters when they make online payments that appear to be “suspicious or out of character”. Other banks have published advice aimed at tipping off consumers off to popular scams and are promoting campaigns such as “Take Five” - a national campaign that offers advice to help consumers protect themselves from financial fraud (https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/). These campaigns and tips serve as a timely reminder that, amidst the festive frenzy, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about cyber security before clicking on our next purchase – even if the only benefit is thinking twice before snapping up the latest model of Fitbit. Please see https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ for more information.