Christmas shopping tips - buy local, beware of fake sellers & online scams
Updated: Feb 15, 2020
"Tis the season to be jolly," but don't be jollied out of your hard earned money by online scammers who have become more cunning than ever thanks to technology.
Australians have already lost more money to online shopping scams in 2019 than in the entire previous year and the biggest shopping spree of the year is only beginning!
ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard (pictured below) , said Scamwatch reports that to November 2019, reported losses from online shopping scams are over $4 million, well in excess of the 2018 total figure of $3.28 million.
“Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping including the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales," she said.
“Reported losses have tripled over the last three years and it is concerning that losses from this year are already so high.”
Watch out for these common online shopping scams: • Fake websites/stores: scammers will set up fake online stores on websites or social media that look like genuine online retailers. Many of these offer luxury items at very low prices but you may receive a fake item or nothing at all.
• Fake sellers: scammers may pose as genuine sellers on classifieds websites. The scammer may claim they are travelling and an agent will deliver the goods once you have paid, but you won’t receive the goods and will be unable to contact the seller.
Local Area Marketing Chief Marketing Officer, Joe Kowalewski, said shoppers should also be careful when buying or selling from social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace, buy & sell groups and Instagram.
"If it's a private transaction, be wary of inviting people to your home. Public places like local cafes can be useful. If the item is bulky, make sure you are not alone," he said.
"Check seller rankings and reviews before you buy on platforms like eBay, Gumtree and Etsy.
""Online can be convenient and save you money, but local businesses can too and have the added advantage of dealing with people directly and are more convenient, particularly if you need advice or have to return or exchange an item."
Ms Rickard said some of the most commonly reported products that scammers are attempting to sell this year are shoes, smartphones and tickets to events.
"Losses from these items so far exceeding half a million dollars,” she said.
“Warning signs for online shopping scams include extremely low advertised prices and requests to pay through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency.
“We encourage everyone to do their research before making an online purchase and if purchasing expensive goods, not to make payment until they have inspected the product.”
Ms Rickard said that spreading scam warnings with loved ones over the holiday period can help protect vulnerable consumers.
“Many people enjoy the convenience of online shopping but it is important to remember that there can be risks involved.
“If you do think you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible,” she said. Further information about scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au
You can also follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter.