Canberrans are being warned to be wary of scammers trying to ruin their Christmas holidays through three common holiday season scams.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission yesterday warned that people are more likely to fall victim to travel scams, online shopping scams and parcel delivery scams in the lead up to Christmas.
In the ACT, 335 people reported issues with one of these three scams during the past 12 months and the ACCC is concerned that more Canberrans may be preyed upon for their personal information or money as they shop and prepare for the Christmas season.
“Scammers often try to take advantage of people during the busy Christmas period and prey on our vulnerabilities at this time of year,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“For example, they may take advantage of you looking for a good deal on a family holiday, searching for a loved one’s present at an online store, or even expecting a present from someone through the post.”
Ms Rickard urged the community to watch out for the three common holiday season scams, detailed below:
This involves scammers tricking their victims into believing they have won a travel prize or secured a really good deal on a travel package, such as a cruise. “Unfortunately these seemingly too-good-to-be-true holidays are nothing more than a scammer’s con,” Ms Rickard said. In the past 12 months, 92 Canberrans have reported this scam and have lost a total of $1,500.
Online shopping scams
This con involves scammers setting up believable looking online stores to trick people into buying goods that don’t really exist. They might also set up fake online classified or auction site listings. “They entice people with legitimate looking discounts and may even advertise items as the perfect Christmas present for a loved one,” Ms Rickard said. This scam has cost ACT residents $31,203 in the past 12 months, with 184 reports.
Parcel delivery scams
Ms Rickard said that with millions of packages moving across the country to get under a Christmas tree in time, scammers will send fake ‘missed delivery’ notices to potential victims. “These scams are aimed at getting people to download malware or ransomware onto their PCs, which can be costly to remove; or steal their personal information,” Ms Rickard said. Scamwatch has received 59 reports of this scam from Canberrans in the past 12 months.
“Your personal information is often just as valuable to a scammer as your money so always be careful about the information you give out online,” Ms Rickard said.
“There are some simple tips you can follow to stay ahead of scammers these holidays.
“If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research on any online stores you’re using, especially if it’s for the first time.
“Never do a deal or make a payment outside the online auction site you are using. If you are buying from a classified website, only hand over the money when you have physically inspected the goods,” Ms Rickard said.
“Finally, never open attachments or download files you receive out of the blue—no matter who the email comes from or how legitimate it looks.”
Further information about holiday season scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au.
Have you encountered one of these scams? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.