Fake online stores, unwanted presents and dodgy puppy sales; these are some of the scams Aussies are being urged to watch out for this festive season.
The Federal Government has warned Aussies to be “on guard” as scammers use the Christmas period to target unsuspecting consumers.
“The Christmas shopping rush is a major opportunity for scammers looking to catch the unwary,” Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones said.
“It’s also a time when they exploit our elderly and other vulnerable groups who may be experiencing loneliness.”
Here are the top five scams to look out for this Christmas.
1. Online shopping scams
“Fake toy-shop websites often emerge at Christmas, usually posing as a ‘new’ online toy retailer,” Jones said.
“Consumers should shop with trusted websites and always pay securely with credit card or online payment services like PayPal.”
If the prices seem too good to be true, this could be a red flag.
2. Delivery and parcel scams
This is where scammers pose as delivery services, such as Australia Post or DHL, and send consumers a text telling them they have a parcel ready for delivery and a link to click.
“Pressing on the link then allows scammers to hack into the consumer’s phone,” Jones said.
“Delivery scams are most prevalent during busy shopping periods like Christmas. Never click on a suspicious link sent via text or email.”
3. Unwanted-present scams
Scammers are also known to list fake “unwanted presents” for sale online over the Christmas period.
“Consumers should use caution and buy from reputable online auction sites only,” Jones said.
4. ‘Hi Mum’ scams
The “Hi Mum” scam has already cost Aussies about $2.6 million in reported losses, and the Government has warned Aussies it could be adapted with a Christmas message.
In the message, the scammer poses as a family member and claims they have lost or damaged their phone and are using a new number. They then ask to borrow money, or for other personal information.
“Communicating via a voice call to authenticate any claim of a lost phone is an easy way to combat these scams,” Jones advised.
5. Puppy scams
Puppy scams have increased 1,000 per cent over the past two years, according to the ACCC, with losses increasing from $375,000 in 2019 to more than $4.2 million in 2021.
“Fake online puppy sales can break hearts and bank balances,” Jones said.
“Consumers are urged to adopt a dog from the RSPCA or buy only from reputed breeders.”