'Tis the season for online shopping scams

25 November 2019

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 upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” ACCC Deputy Chair 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.”

Watch out for these common online shopping scams:

  • 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. 

People can  follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts to get up-to-date warnings.

Background:

Scamwatch has joined with the OAIC, Stay Smart Online and the eSafety Commissioner to encourage consumers to watch out for fake online stores, keep their personal information safe, pay securely online and consider the safety of tech gifts this holiday season.

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