Online Christmas shopping: beware of scammers

By April Murphy

Online shopping scams are at high. Shoppers have lost more money this year than previous years and we are still yet to get through the holiday period.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is alerting consumers to be more vigilant when online shopping. “ScamAlert” is a website run by the commission that provides information to consumers and small businesses on how to recognise, avoid and report scams.

There has been over 4 million dollars of reported losses already this year, whereas the total for 2018 was 3.28 million dollars. With Christmas approaching it is important for consumers to be informed and mindful on these online scams.

“Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. Fake websites, stores and fake sellers are the sorts of things shoppers need to be watchful of.

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.

Procedures

Scammers will set up fake online stores on websites or social media. These stores can look like genuine online retailers. The luxury items that are for sale are marketed at low prices, but the trick is that you may never receive the item or a the very least, you would receive a fake item.

Fake sellers front as genuine retailers on classified websites. The scammer will generally use a fraudulent account and trick the buyer into parting with their money (or products if they are a seller). They will often use confidence tricks and even false documents to earn the victims trust.

Things to look out for when shopping online are lack of contact information, extremely low advertised process, unsecured websites, terrible site reviews and protected payment methods.

“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.