Online shopping scam losses have increased upwards of 55 per cent, causing Aussies lose up to AUD 7 million in 2020 alone. Losses on popular websites such as Facebook or Gumtree have reached AUD 4.5 million, increasing by 60 per cent compared to the previous year. Scams which involve consumer goods such as shoes, vehicles, phones, and laptops continue to rank high, but the most common subject of scams are pet scams. In this fraudulent tactic, scammers place ads selling pets online, where unsuspecting victims transfer money online, and once done, scammers will disappear and remain uncontactable, and so will the promised nonexistent pet.
With the holiday season quickly coming upon us, scammers are lining up in an attempt to scam anyone who would fall for their fraudulent activities. Phishing emails that contain fraudulent holiday offers are starting to pop up on popular websites. With Coronavirus restrictions easing nationwide, fake holiday accommodation vouchers are being offered to unsuspecting travellers as well.
Likewise, when shoppers look for Christmas gifts online, they should always be cautious of offers that are too good to be true. Phishing emails that contain massive discounts for Christmas gift shopping might still reach inboxes. It is important to always be on alert and never click suspicious links from emails and ads.
Beware of different types of scams that could steal your money or your information. To avoid being scammed, keep these best practices in mind:
- Know where you’re buying from or who your sellers are. best to keep brand loyalty with well-known brands or online stores that you have already purchased from before. Always make sure that the link you’re clicking is the shop’s official website and not a fraudulent one, one good example is checking if the site is using https, which indicates the website’s security.
- Before buying a holiday or accommodation voucher, contact the hotel or the place you intend to use it via phone call or official email accounts. Always check if the coupons you’re about to purchase are being honoured during the period you will be using it.
- Choose secure payment methods. Use PayPal, Bpay, or your credit card when you purchase anything online as it is easier to dispute transactions through these if things go awry. Never pay by bank deposits, money transfers, or even through crypto currencies such as Bitcoin.
- Don’t put your personal information on unsecured websites. If you do manage to click a suspicious link, do not input any data including your sensitive information such as your name, credit card details, and phone number. Ensure that the link you’re clicking has https at the beginning of the address which indicates the site’s security.
- Use antivirus software for any device you’re using while doing your online shopping. Secure your PC and your phones with antivirus software before you do your online holiday shopping. This way you will remain protected against phishing emails, unsecured websites, viruses, and other online scams.
Keep a lookout for other online scams this holiday season, and practice good online habits. In case of online scams or other cyber-related crimes, report it to Scamwatch.