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Scamwatch alert: holiday shopping scams

Losses to online shopping scams increased 42% this year and Scamwatch is warning Australians to be careful when buying gifts this holiday season. $7m has been lost in online shopping scams in 2020, with losses on classified websites such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree increasing by 60% to $4.5 million.

 

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 (image: ACCC Scamwatch)

 Scamwatch has received over 12,000 reports of online shopping scams so far this year, with almost $7 million in reported losses.

“More people have been shopping online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and scammers are now targeting people doing their Christmas shopping, including in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

“Scammers create fake websites that look like genuine online stores, offering products at very low prices and victims will either receive a fake item or nothing at all. They also post fake ads on classified websites, often claiming they are travelling and someone else will deliver the goods, but the item never arrives and the victim can no longer contact the seller.”

Losses on classified websites, such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, have increased by 60 per cent this year, to $4.5 million. People aged 24 and under reported the highest number of scams involving phones and computers.

"Reports of online shopping scams involving consumer goods, such as shoes, phones, computers and toys, continue to be high, Rickard said. "But the most common thing people were trying to buy when they were scammed was puppies and other pets.

“Watch out for popular products being sold at prices much lower than on other websites and sellers requesting payment through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency. Take the time to consider who you are dealing with and don’t be pressured by special offers. Do your research by checking independent reviews of online stores or the seller’s history on classified websites.”

Another scam is fake parcel delivery notifications via text message or email.

“Australia Post will never ask you to click a link to enter your personal details, nor will they ask for credit card details or a fee to deliver your packages,” said Rickard. “If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.”

Most financial institutions offer a charge back service for credit cards and will dispute a credit transaction with the merchant if they still exist.

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More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website.