Christmas scam warning as losses rocket

Scamwatch warns beware of online shopping scams this Christmas

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It's nearly Christmas and the scammers are out in force. Image: Shutterstock

It's nearly Christmas and the scammers are out in force. Image: Shutterstock

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How to avoid being ripped off online this holiday season.

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CHRISTMAS is barreling toward us with frightening speed, and with the advent of the festive season comes the seasonal online shopping scam warnings.

Australians have already lost more money to online shopping scams in 2019 than in the entire previous year, and Scamwatch is warning people to be cautious of online shopping scams in the lead up to the holiday season.

So far in 2019, reported losses from online shopping scams are over $4 million, well in excess of the 2018 total figure of $3.28 million.

"Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping including in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chairwoman Delia Rickard said.

"Reported losses have tripled over the last three years and it is concerning that losses from this year are already so high."

Common online shopping scams to look out for:

  • Fake websites/stores: scammers will set up fake online stores, on websites or social media, which can look like genuine online retailers. Many of these offer luxury items at very low prices but you may receive a fake item or nothing at all.
  • Fake sellers: scammers may pose as genuine sellers on classifieds websites. The scammer may claim they are travelling and an agent will deliver the goods once you have paid, but you won't receive the goods and will be unable to contact the seller.

"Some of the most commonly reported products that scammers are attempting to sell this year are shoes, smartphones and tickets to events, with losses from these items so far exceeding half a million dollars," Ms Rickard said.

"Warning signs for online shopping scams include extremely low advertised prices and requests to pay through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency."

"We encourage everyone to do their research before making an online purchase and if purchasing expensive goods, not to make payment until they have inspected the product."

Ms Rickard added that spreading scam warnings with loved ones over the holiday period can help protect vulnerable consumers.

"Many people enjoy the convenience of online shopping but it is important to remember that there can be risks involved."

"If you do think you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible," Ms Rickard said.

Australia Post warning

Australia Post also recently issued a warning of fraudulent text messages that are circulating advising customers that the parcel will not be delivered "due to unverified shipping address" and prompting them to click on a link.

The text message asks you to click on a link that isn't related to Australia Post. The link will lead to a fake website with Australia Post logo to steal your personal and financial information.

Due to the way mobile phones combine conversations, these scams can appear in the same conversation view as legitimate Australia Post text messages.

Australia Post has said it will never email or text message you asking you to click on a link to print out a receipt/label for parcel collection/tracking or to access your package. Nor will Australia Post ask you to send an email containing any personal or financial information, including any form of ID, passwords, credit card details and account information.

If you are in doubt about the authenticity of an email, text message or phone call, please delete immediately or hang up.

If you believe you have sent any personal information to a scam email address or entered it into a scam website and are worried that your identity may have been stolen you can visit ID CARE or call on 1300-432-273 as they provide free services to victims of identity theft.

Read more: Phone scams: What to do if you think you're being conned

Read more: Seniors hit hardest by computer hackers

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