Warning as scammers target Christmas shoppers


Christmas shoppers should think before they click as fraudsters come out in force during the nation's busiest shopping period of the year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's deputy chair Delia Rickard has warned consumers "to stop, breathe and think before clicking on things".

"It's a difficult time because we want to get our work finished for the year, we've got shopping to do and we don't think as much as we do at other times of the year," she said.

"Scammers will take advantage of that."

In a new survey commissioned by cybersecurity company McAfee, it found in 2019 the following scams had the most success in catching out respondents - email or text phishing (35 per cent), robocalling (32 per cent), shipping notification scams (26 per cent), fake, risky streaming websites (23 per cent) and phony online stores (22 per cent).

Phishing involves duping a victim into opening an email or message and encourages them to enter personal details, while robocalls are recorded messages usually trying to sell you something that turns out to be a scam.

Ms Rickard said one of the common scams at Christmas was scammers impersonating Australia Post or deliveries like FedEx, by sending messages saying a parcel was due to arrive.

Scammers will be out in force in the lead-up to the Christmas period.
Scammers will be out in force in the lead-up to the Christmas period.

These types of scams will be rife during the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday bonanza shopping days next week.

Ms Rickard warned not to click on any links sent in these messages because it could lead to being held to ransom or the victim giving away personal information.

Consumers should be on high alert of suspicious emails and fake shopping websites, security company McAfee's spokeswoman Alex Merton-McCann said.

"Slow down and stop, pause and listen to your gut," she said.

"If you've found something on a random website, take some time and do your due diligence and don't just go for the cheapest item."

Latest Scamwatch data showed in 2019 there has been about 145,000 reports of scam activity and Australians have lost $118 million dollars.

About 11 per cent of reports include the victim reporting financial loss.

Ms Merton-McCann warned shoppers, "if you are offered promotions and special deals avoid clicking the link in the email".

"It's always best to check with the online retailer to make sure it's legitimate, because that is the number one way people get done is by clicking on links in emails."

Scamwatch figures also found the scams where people lost the most amount of money was investment scams, dating and romance scams and false billing.