Free webinar: How to avoid The 12 Scams of Christmas

AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group logoAs part of AbilityNet's Digital Skills project with BT Group to support people 65+ with getting online and using technology, we hosted a free webinar, How to avoid the 12 Scams of Christmas, on Tuesday 12 December, 1pm GMT.

3 unlocked padlocks in a rowIn the webinar we discussed how to protect yourself and elderly people often most at risk from the most common online scams that can be especially rife around the festive season.

But anyone can become a victim of digital scams. They are a growing problem in the UK and criminals are using social media, email, and messaging services to target their victims. 

Worrying about falling victim to online criminals can, understandably, make some people reluctant to engage in the online world. Recent research from BT Group* highlighted that some older internet users may be less familiar with the online world than others, so this webinar aims to provide valuable tips to vulnerable groups who may not be as online savvy as others.

The benefits of getting online can really make a positive difference to everyone's lives, so stay safe by learning about the common tactics that are used to attempt to fool us all.

What you'll learn:

Older man uses ATM and smilesIn this free webinar, speakers from Greater Manchester Police and AbilityNet shared their expertise to help you:

  • Learn about common online scams to be aware of, particularly over the festive period
  • Arm yourself with background knowledge about what to avoid
  • Find out about some of the warning signs

This webinar lasted for 60 minutes and included an opportunity to pose questions to the guest speakers.

Who will benefit from this webinar? 

The session is aimed at anyone who would like to learn about online safety and common digital scams, in particular people over 60 who may be less confident online. But the resources shared can help people of any age. Relatives, friends, carers, health and social care professionals, and people working in charities or organisations who help older people will also benefit from the advice provided.

If you work in an organisation, why not see if any of your current clients may want to join the session? (They may need a little of your help to register and join the webinar.)

Meet the panellists

A profile image of Hollie BowkerHollie Bowker, Cyber Prevent Officer, Greater Manchester Police

Hollie is a member of the Cyber Crime Unit within the Public Protection and Serious Crime Division at Greater Manchester Police. Her expertise includes a comprehensive understanding of the Computer Misuse Act 1990, allowing her to explain the various categories of cyber 'dependent' crimes. Additionally, Hollie actively engages with individuals on the verge of committing or who have already committed cybercrimes, guiding them towards more constructive paths.

Lucy Walsh smilingLucy Walsh, BT Digital Skills Trainer, AbilityNet

Lucy recently joined AbilityNet on the BT Digital Skills project, providing digital confidence training to clients in the Cardiff area. Her previous roles have included being a trainer and coach in both the Financial and Third Sectors, notably for Lloyds TSB, Save the Children and Royal British Legion.

Profile image of Alex Barker looking at the cameraAlex Barker, Disability Consultant, AbilityNet

Alex Barker has worked for AbilityNet for nearly 20 years and recently became a Disability Consultant at the charity. Alex has Moebius Syndrome, a very rare condition that causes paralysis in facial muscles, club foot, missing limbs and sometimes cognitive issues too. So he understands a lot of the difficulties disabled people have when using technology.

Learn more about online scams

* BT Group’s research shows that two thirds (65%) of older people think that you’re never too old to learn new skills, with almost half (49%) open to learning tech skills specifically. The research was carried out by OnePoll in October 2022 of 1500 people over 60 years of age in the UK.

Get more good advice: free factsheets 

AbilityNet’s Factsheets are free to download and provide advice and information about how computers and other digital technologies can help people with a range of conditions and impairments. Easy Read versions available for our most popular topics.


I have ordered from legitimate sites i.e newlook and my card has been cloned - how do you prevent this?  

Alex: I think it is probably quite hard to say where your card has been cloned. It MIGHT not have been cloned on the New look website.

Hollie: Cloning can often happen when your bank card has been stolen using a skimming device, I’m not sure if this is something that has happen to you.
In terms of protecting yourself digitally having a good antivirus software is beneficial.
I would also consider checking your email on “Have I been Pwned?” As it will allow you to search across multiple data breaches to see if your email address or phone number has been compromised which may in turn lead to other personal information and change those passwords to keep your accounts secure.

Keep getting messages to say about delivery do I ignore?: 

Alex: I’d add them to junk/spam.

Hollie: If you believe they are ‘phishing’ messages, I recommend reporting them by forwarding SMS messages to 7726 and emails to and also block those senders. Also utilise the ‘junk – phishing’ folders on your email.

If you know someone who is continuously being scammed due to a brain injury and the police have been told but it keeps happening what do you do?:

Alex: I wonder if the client ought to have someone having “power of attorney” over them to help them manage their money. 

Hollie: I’m sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, this is difficult question to answer without knowing more information, i.e., whether this is happening in person or online etc.

I would suggest reporting to Action Fraud via either 0300 123 2040 or
Action Fraud is the UK National reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experience cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You can also report on someone’s behalf if you have enough information surrounding the incident.

How do you check security is up to date?

Alex: Make sure that automatic updates are switched on. This way you’ll never miss an important update.

Hollie: Completing regular updates on devices will help to ensure your security is up to date. Additionally, most social media sites also have their own, ‘check my security’ settings, which run through those for you. Making sure your passwords follow the NCSC guidance in relation to 3 random words and 12 characters in length will keep your accounts much more secure than a poor password.


Further resources

Hollie: The National Cyber Security Centre has a wealth of information and resources. There is a section for individuals and families and also ‘Cyber Aware’ offers the Governments advice on how to stay safe online. National Cyber Security Centre - NCSC.GOV.UK

Webinar FAQs

The slidedeck, recording and transcript are now available on this page following the webinar's live broadcast.

Find out more in our webinars FAQs and sign up to our next free webinar in our AbilityNet Live webinar series.

You can find an archive of our webinars on our website and we also offer paid role-based accessibility training.

Useful links

Date of webinar: 
12 Dec 2023 - 13:00