Watch out for the latest digital scams and fraud leading up to Black Friday & Christmas

Online fraud is on the rise in the lead up to Black Friday (24th November) and as people delve into their Christmas shopping. Digital scams including fake QR Codes are also popping up in public places, so here’s our latest blog to help you stay protected ahead of the festive season.

Closely inspect any QR codes

A concerning trend highlighted in a BBC article involves QR code scams appearing in train stations and car parks, redirecting the public to fake websites or initiate unauthorised transactions. Action Fraud state that more than 400 QR code related offences were logged in the first nine months of 2023. Scammers are taking advantage of the widespread use of QR codes for payments and information sharing. Be cautious when scanning QR codes, especially those received via email, social media, or from unknown sources. 

LWA advisory tip: Only scan QR codes from trusted sources, such as official retailer apps or websites. If in doubt, manually type in the website URL or use your device's browser to access the intended page. For printed QR codes on posters – check if an original QR code might have been covered up.


Online shopping vigilance

Black Friday brings with it a surge in online shopping for people holding out to do their Christmas shopping, making it a prime target for scammers. Stick to reputable websites, ensure the website is secure (look for "https" in the URL), and be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Always use secure payment methods and avoid sharing unnecessary personal information.

Greater Manchester Police have recently issued information via social media and through schools, to warn parents and guardians of online scams that have increased across the region.

LWA advisory tip: Bookmark trusted online retailers and avoid clicking on links from unfamiliar sources, especially if a website has only recently launched. If you receive unsolicited emails or pop-up ads, double-check the legitimacy of the sender before taking any action.


Phishing and spoofing dangers

Phishing emails and messages continue to be a persistent threat, especially during the festive season. Scammers may impersonate legitimate retailers or delivery services to trick you into providing sensitive information. Stay vigilant and verify the authenticity of communications before sharing any personal details.

LWA advisory tip: Look out for subtle signs of phishing, such as misspelled email addresses or generic greetings. If you're unsure, contact the company directly using official contact information to confirm the legitimacy of the communication.


Track deliveries safely

With the increase in online shopping, fake delivery notifications are on the rise. Scammers may send emails or messages claiming to be from delivery services, prompting you to click on links or download attachments. Verify the tracking number on the official website of the delivery service, and avoid clicking on any suspicious links.

LWA advisory tip: If you receive unexpected delivery notifications, exercise caution. Instead of clicking on any provided links, visit the official website of the delivery service and enter the tracking number directly. This ensures that you are accessing legitimate information and helps protect your device from potential malware or phishing attempts.


Verify before you buy or pay with a gift card

Gift cards are a popular choice for a Christmas present, but scammers have found ways to exploit this form of payment. Be wary of unsolicited calls or messages requesting payment via gift cards, as legitimate businesses do not operate in this manner. If in doubt, contact the company directly using official contact information to verify the request.

LWA advisory tip: Legitimate businesses will not ask for payment via gift cards over unsolicited calls or messages. If you receive such a request, be sceptical. Contact the company directly using official contact information to confirm the legitimacy of the request before making any purchases or transactions.


Research before you give to charity

The spirit of giving is abundant at this time of year, and scammers often take advantage of this generosity. Be cautious of unsolicited requests for donations, especially those that pressure you to act quickly. Verify the legitimacy of the charity through official channels before making any contributions.

LWA advisory tip: Before making any charitable donations, especially in response to unsolicited requests, take the time to research the charity. Genuine charitable organisations will appreciate your due diligence.


Get in touch with LWA

At LWA, your safety is our priority. For more tips on fraud prevention and staying secure, visit our blog at and search ‘scams’. Wishing you a joyful and secure festive season filled with stress-free shopping! Contact our team if you have any concerns about fraud related to HMRC by emailing or call us on 0161 905 1801 in South Manchester or on 01925 830 830 in Warrington.