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Tuesday, 24 November 2020 11:25

Online shoppers warned to be on alert as scams increase, losses climb to $7 million Featured

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Australians have been warned to be careful when buying gifts this holiday season as losses to online shopping scams have already increased 42% this year as the country enters the busy Christmas-New Year period.

The warning from the consumer watchdog ACCC’s Scamwatch service reports that it 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,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“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.”

Scamwatch says losses on classified websites, such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, have increased by 60% this year, to $4.5 million, while reports of online shopping scams involving consumer goods, such as shoes, phones, computers and toys, continue to be high.

But Scamwatch says the most common thing people were trying to buy when they were scammed was puppies and other pets, while people aged 24 and under reported the highest number of scams involving phones and computers.

“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,” Rickard said.

“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.”

Scamwatch warns that another scam to be aware of if you have made recent purchases online 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,” Rickard said.

“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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