Beware of New Year’s Resolution Online Scams

woman holding a credit card looking at her laptop

New research has revealed that 60% of UK consumers are leaving themselves exposed to ‘quick-fix’ online scams.  

With the arrival of a new year, many have adopted the ‘new year, new me’ attitude and have set themselves ambitious New Year’s resolutions.

By surveying 2,000 people, cyber security software maker, ESET, found that 64% of respondents wanted to lose weight/get fitter, 50% aspired to live a healthier lifestyle and 48% wanted to save money.

It is this desire that online scammers are looking to exploit by offering a quick-fixes, which they claim will help you achieve your goals in the shortest amount of time. According to the survey, one in three consumers feels pressured by brands to go for these quick-fixes that use ‘today only’ offers to encourage consumers to throw caution to the wind and sign up.

Some scam adverts are trying to lure in consumers with free trials, which could end up costing them if they fail to cancel within a certain time frame – typically they are not made aware of this caveat. Similarly, some free trials demand consumers enter their credit card details and personal information, which could see the individual fall victim to cyber fraud.

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29% of respondents said they would be willing to download new apps, 28% would enter online competitions and 16% would click through to deals they received via email in order to achieve their New Year’s resolution.

Worryingly, only four in ten (39%) were positive that they had anti-virus software on their mobile devices to protect them, which means that 60% of consumers are at risk of New Year’s resolution-themed online scams. Consumers should be aware that free apps could potentially download malware onto their device if not properly protected.

What you can do to protect yourself

Experts urge consumers to be more discerning when it comes to entering online competitions, free trials, and the apps they chose to download

Tips to avoid falling victim to these scams:

  • Be vigilant against increased phishing email attacks in the form of ‘quick-fix’ deals.
  • If you have not visited a particular brand’s website before, do your homework and research reviews and comments from trusted review sites.
  • Be cautious of deals you see on Facebook, Instagram etc – even if there are lots of ‘likes’ on the post. There are plenty of scams that take advantage of easily accessible and cheap social media advertising platforms.
  • Download anti-virus software for all your devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • When entering personal details on a website or app, always check terms and conditions, and even then be careful what you are agreeing to letting others knowing about you.

Branislav Orlik, product manager for mobile security at ESET, said: “At this time of year, it is incredibly easy to be enticed into exciting offers and quick-fix solutions while scrolling through our phones or tablets. However, smartphone users with no anti-virus software are opening themselves up to some serious threats.

“While an email deal or competition may seem enticing, clicking through on an unsafe link or entering your details online can make you vulnerable to hackers and leave your personal data at risk. It is crucial to consider how you can best protect your devices.”


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