Did you know Australians have already reported around $72 million lost to scams in 2017? A number which is likely to increase over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Here are some of the most common scams of the festive season and tips to avoid them.
At a time of giving, beware of scammers posing as genuine charities and praying on your generosity.
- When donating online, take note of the website’s URL, logo and contact details to determine whether it’s legitimate. Secure websites usually have a https:// before the URL. The ‘s’ stands for secure.
- Type in the organisation’s website address, search for them, or call them directly, rather than clicking on a link in an email or being prompted by someone over the phone.
Holiday booking scams
When booking your holiday, be on the lookout for fake flight booking websites, accommodation vouchers and travel clubs. Always go through trusted and official websites or a travel agent, and be aware of deals that look too good to be true!
- Never provide your credit card details or other personal information to someone you don’t know or trust.
- If you’re doubtful of a website’s authenticity, do a few online searches to verify their details and look at customer reviews.
- Use the Australian Government’s website to check if the company’s ABN and trader name match.
Online shopping scams
Keen to take advantage of those boxing day sales? Asking yourself a few questions can help you pick a dodgy online retailer.
- Does the seller have good reviews? On auction sites like Ebay, a dodgy seller may have a bad rating.
- How does the website ask you to pay? Many scammers request payment via money order, pre-loaded money cards or wire-transfer, but it is safer to make payments via PayPal or on credit card.
- Is there adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, complaints and delivery on the website?
- Are you being persuaded to pay immediately or take the payment elsewhere? Auction sites like Ebay have buyer protection which won’t apply if you complete the sale over the phone or email.
Christmas e-card scams
You might receive animated Christmas e-cards via email from family or friends. E-cards can be fun, but be cautious when opening them as they can carry computer viruses that may harm your computer and privacy.
- Don’t download attachments or click links within the e-cards.
- Don’t open emails from people you don’t know, and be cautious of emails that have been forwarded on friends and family.
Many of us want to win the jackpot, but it’s important to be cautious of any notifications (via social media, email, mail, or over the phone) saying you have won an unexpected prize.
- If you didn’t enter the competition in the first place, you’re probably not winning a legitimate prize.
- Fees associated with receiving a prize are usually factored into prize costs. If you’re asked to pay a fee to receive your winnings, you’re probably being scammed.
- Don’t provide personal or financial details to someone who contacts you telling you are a winner.
Staying alert this festive season
While the Christmas and New Year period is a time for celebration and relaxation, it’s also a prime time for scammers.
If you are going away, don’t forget to ask someone to collect your mail. Also regularly check and delete your emails, and verify if websites and phone calls are legitimate - you can do this by doing a search on Google or looking up a phone number and calling back.
For more details on types of scams and how to avoid them, head to Scamwatch.gov.au.