Tis the Season to be Scammed
The festive season is a time of joy and unity; however, it is also a time when many are targeted by scammers. According to Scamwatch, online fraud is up 42 percent on last year with over 12,000 reports and $7m in losses
It is not gender specific and not just limited to the over 65s or the less tech savvy. You are never too old or too young to be scammed. This is particularly important in the pandemic environment where more of us are sending e-cards and purchasing gifts online.
So, let’s looks at some common scams and how you might avoid being caught in the scammers’ net.
Post Office Scams
Many consumers have been receiving emails and text messages that look like authentic Australia post emails, informing them that their shipment is awaiting delivery and advising them to confirm payment via a link. Recipients who click on the link are led to a fake Australia Post webpage that asks users for their credit card details. This is a phishing page designed to misappropriate money from the trusting victim.
Scammers have been sending out their own version of e-cards. These emails contain malware or viruses that can embed in your device without your knowledge. The scammers are then able to harvest personal information, such as bank details, usernames and passwords. Don’t click on any link from someone who you don’t recognise. The dancing elves might dance right into the heart of your computer.
Fake vouchers have been surfacing via chat applications and social media, appearing to be from big named supermarkets or other stores. These vouchers purport to offer discounts on products if you follow a link and fill out a survey. Scammers then use these surveys as a tool to harvest personal information from consumers. Don’t give out personal information from an unknown online person or company no matter what the inducement.
Popular Toys Scam
Many shoppers have been scammed by professional looking websites that are selling high demand toys, that are out of stock elsewhere. These sites may offer the toys at discount prices or advertise last minute deals to promote a sense of urgency in the purchase where the finer details of the website’s legitimacy may be overlooked.
In some cases, consumers receive cheap counterfeit versions of the product or the product is not delivered at all. Where a counterfeit product is provided, there may be health and safety concerns. There have been cases of knock off electronics causing fires, small parts being a choking hazard and excess lead and unsafe chemicals in the product or packaging.
When consumers attempted to follow up with the retailer, they either didn’t respond or they refuse to provide a refund. So if your Barbie® Fashionistas™ Doll looked too cheap or your Gan Speed 3×3 Cubes are only 2×2 then it’s a scam.
During COVID-19, many households opened their doors to a new pet, emptying shelters and pushing breeders to the limit. Pets were the top of the list for online shopping scams with more than $2 million in losses. Don’t open your wallet until you have seen your new pet and check a seller’s credentials before you enquire.
If you think you have been scammed contact your financial institution immediately, the platform provider, if it is an online service and then report it to Scamwatch.
Keep vigilant and have a very happy holiday season.