Money & Banking

Christmas shoppers warned of online scam in the leadup to holiday season

Christmas shoppers warned of online scam in the leadup to holiday season

Online shoppers are being warned of scams in the lead up to the Christmas holiday season.

As Australians turn to online stores and marketplaces for their Christmas shopping, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warns that the convenience might come with risks.

“Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping including in the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Some of the common scams include fake websites or stores, where scammers set up fake online stores disguised to look like genuine online retailers. The stores could be set up on websites or social media.

Fake sellers could also be found on classifieds websites and buy-swap-sell groups. The scammer may claim they are travelling and will have someone deliver the goods on their behalf once the shopper has paid.

Rickard said some of the most commonly reported products that scammers attempt to sell online this year include shoes, smartphones and event tickets.

A couple of shoppers previously shared on Scamwatch that they lost $160 on a fake website claiming to sell barbeques.

“Payment was via credit card with a 2.99 per cent fee, or direct transfer with a 5 per cent discount. Then we received an email saying that due to logistic emails our order was cancelled and being refunded. Not surprisingly, the money has not been refunded. Very clever approach,” they said.

Rickard advised shoppers to be wary of extremely low prices and requests to pay through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency. Scamwatch also recommends researching the seller and using secure payment methods such as credit card or PayPal.

According to the consumer watchdog, the reported losses from online shopping scams this year have reached more than $4 million so far, exceeding 2018’s record of $3.28 million.

“Reported losses have tripled over the last three years and it is concerning that losses from this year are already so high,” Rickard said.

“If you do think you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible.”