Australians warned of scam deals this Christmas


Christmas shoppers are being urged to exercise extreme caution while buying gifts for family and friends this festive season, with online fraud on the rise.

Fake online toy shops , far-too-cheap puppies and text alerts for deliveries you never ordered are just some of the scams expected to do the rounds this year.

The assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, has urged people to shop with a crucial mantra in mind: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

“The ACCC has told us that last year there was about $2bn worth of scams … they expect that to double this year and there’s always a spike over Christmas time,” he told the ABC.

“The government wants to have people be aware these things are likely to ramp up over the Christmas period and to take extra care.”

Shoppers should be wary of people purporting to sell their unwanted gifts at cut prices, and have been told to buy puppies from registered breeders or adopt from the RSPCA and rescue shelters.

Another common trap to watch out for is the “Hi Mum” scam, where criminals impersonate a family member claiming to have lost their phone to gain person details.

People are being told not to click on any suspicious texts or emails about parcels ready for delivery, and to always shop with trusted websites and pay securely via services such as PayPal.

“The Christmas shopping bonanza is a gift for scammers, who set up fake shops or classified ads … they will also impersonate family members over phones and other communication devices over the holiday period,” Jones said.

“A few simple steps, like shopping with trusted retailers and calling family rather than texting, can make a big difference.”

An ACCC report on scams activity in 2021, released in July this year, said nearly $1.8bn in losses were reported in 2021 – and that given around one-third of scam victims did not report to anyone, the real loss figure would probably be more than $2bn.

Indigenous Australians, older Australians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people with a disability were losing far more than before, the report said.

The largest losses were from investment scams, payment redirection scams, and “romance scams” where people pretend to be prospective partners and can “play on emotional triggers to get victims to provide money, gifts or personal details”.

Phone calls, text messages and email were the top three ways scammers contacted their victims, the report said.

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Article Credited to The Guardian

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