Beware fake websites when shopping online for Christmas

7 November 2013

SCAMwatch is warning consumers shopping online for Christmas to watch out for fake websites selling bogus gifts. Scammers set up sophisticated sites designed to trick you into thinking they’re the real deal, including using a ‘.com.au’ domain name and stolen Australian Business Number (ABN).

Several scam shopping sites have already been shut down, but it’s important that you stay alert to avoid finding yourself out of pocket and a present. The tell-tale sign is if the site only allows you to pay via money order or wire transfer – once you send money this way, it’s rare to see it again.

Don’t let scammers deliver you a nasty surprise this Christmas. When shopping online, make sure the business that you are dealing with, and their offer, is the real deal.

How these scams work

  • While shopping online for Christmas, you come across a website selling products suitable for gifts.
  • The product may be a popular item, such as a smartphone, tablet or camera, at a really cheap price.
  • The site may appear to be authentic, with a sophisticated design and content. It may even appear to be an Australian based business, with a ‘.com.au’ domain name and an Australian Business Number (ABN), which is likely to have been stolen from a legitimate company.
  • When you go to pay for your purchase, the site only offers you to pay via money order or wire transfer, rather than a secure payment method.
  • If you go ahead with the ‘purchase’, you will never receive the product, or see your money again.

Protect yourself

  • If you come across a website with an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If a shopping site only offers you to pay by money order or wire transfer, steer clear - it’s rare to recover money sent this way. Only pay via secure payment methods – look for a web address starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol.
  • Remember – these days, it’s easy for a scammer to create a professional looking website. Know who you’re dealing with before you buy online and, if you have any doubts, don’t go ahead.
  • If you think you have provided your financial details or sent money to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the SCAMwatch report a scam page.

More information

For more information on scam shopping sites that have been shut down, check out these warnings issued by Consumer Affairs Victoria and Western Australian Department of Commerce.

Stay one step ahead of scammers – follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.

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