Christmas is a time for relaxation and reflection. But don't let your guard down – it's also high season for fraudsters.

Christmas is a time for relaxation and reflection. But don't let your guard down – it's also high season for fraudsters.

The run-up to Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year: stores packed with customers, large and expensive purchases.... It's good for business – but also good for fraudsters.

The period before Christmas is high season for fraudsters. Not only are sales personnel run off their feet, but unusual purchases are also nothing out of the ordinary. And so it begins....

How do fraudsters get away with it?

One of the most common tricks: the fraudster places an order by phone or e-mail and the merchant has to enter the credit card information into the payment terminal manually – without knowing whether or not the person at the other end of the line is the lawful owner of the credit card.

Fraudsters who operate in this way usually feign stress by claiming that the purchase is extremely urgent, so there isn't any time to make any clarifications. Luxury goods stores are the primary target for scams like these. The fraudsters pretend to be demanding, high-rolling clients, which prompts the sales staff to display even more of a willingness to help. Sometimes even generous gratuities are offered in return – and it is not uncommon for them also to be paid out.

When should alarm bells start ringing?

  • If customers you don't know place an order with you but are not physically present.
  • If the purchase amount is unusually high.
  • If articles are ordered by phone or in writing that people would normally want to try out or try on before buying.
  • If the amount is divided among several cards: this is a way of disguising exceptionally large amounts, since the smaller amounts no longer raise flags with the banks that issued the cards.

What can you do?

  • Make your sales staff aware of the threats: how fraudsters act, what constitutes a conspicuous transaction, what is the right way to react, etc.
  • Do not allow yourself to be blinded by the prospect of securing a large sale. This is what the fraudsters are banking on.
  • If in any doubt, call SIX. Please have the following information ready: card number, expiry date, name of cardholder (as written on the card), delivery address.
  • To be on the safe side, you should only accept card payments if the cardholder is physically present in the store with their card. After the card is inserted in the payment terminal, the transaction has to be authorized by means of a PIN or signature.
  • Telephone and e-mail orders should only really be accepted from regular customers who are well known to you. Even then, however, there is still a certain element of risk, for example, if the card is not covered.

If you have to accept orders by phone or e-mail, the best thing to do is to conclude a distance contract. This means you have the credit card details you have received by phone or e-mail authorized by the bank online and in real time – in exactly the same way as at a payment terminal. You can find more information on this service here.