Scam Alert written on multiple road sign
Scam Alert written on multiple road sign natasaadzic

Scam alert: Christmas shopping could make you vulnerable

THE pressure to find that last-minute Christmas present or holiday deal could knock you into the ever-waiting hands of scammers according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Scamwatch has issued a warning for consumers to be on the lookout for dodgy deals ahead of the yuletide celebrations.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard reminded shoppers that Christmas was indeed the season for giving - just not to scammers.

"We love snagging a great deal online for a loved one's Christmas present and the idea of a bargain holiday is perfect for many after a long year," Ms Rickard said. "But don't fall for it.

"Scammers will take advantage of special days or major events like Christmas to fleece people of their money or personal information."

Ms Rickard said the best defence was for consumers to do their research and employ a healthy dose of scepticism.

"With travel deals, call the accommodation provider directly, for example the cruise line or hotel, to check if the deal is legitimate," she said.

"If you see a seemingly great deal on an accommodation rental website like Airbnb, make sure you only communicate and pay through the official site to avoid getting stung by a fake listing.

"We're all expecting parcels this time of year but be careful about online links and never download attachments.

"If you're wondering if a delivery notice is legitimate, check the tracking number at the Australia Post or other delivery company website, or call them directly using a number you find from an online search or the phone book."

However, fake gifts and dodgy holiday deals weren't the scammer's only tactics with tax scams still a threat to Australians, with ACCC receiving 7,500 reports of tax scams and a reported $400,000 lost just last month.

"This isn't a usual holiday season scam, however a lot of people are getting calls from scammers pretending to be from the tax office or the police and threatening them with arrest over unpaid tax debts," Ms Rickard said

"This is a scam. If you ever get a call or email containing threats like this, hang up the phone or delete the email."

Here are three common holiday season scams people should look out for:

  • Online shopping scams: scammers will set up fake online stores or post goods for sale in buy‑swap-sell groups or online classified sites to trick people into buying items that don't exist. This scam has cost Australians nearly $3 million in 2018, with more than 8,700 reports.
  • Travel scams: scammers trick people into believing they've won a holiday or scored a really good deal on a travel package, like a cruise. Unfortunately the prize or the cheap accommodation are phony. In 2018, nearly $135,000 has been lost to this scam.
  • Parcel delivery scams: scammers may ask you to print off a label, do a survey, claim a prize, or view the status of your delivery by clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. Some scammers may even call or text with claims about an unsuccessful delivery. These scams are aimed at getting people to download malware onto their computer, or give up their personal information. People have lost about $31,000 to these scams in 2018.

Further information about holiday season scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au


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