Scam surveys and fake gift card offers

Consumer watchdog the ACCC is warning people to be on the alert for scams offering fake gift cards or vouchers in return for disclosing credit card and other personal information.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard said that so far this year, the ACCC's Scamwatch had received 1,175 complaints about fake surveys, emails and social media posts misusing the names and logos of big retailers such as JB Hi-fi and Bunnings, Coles and Woolworths, with $2,600 reported lost.

“These losses are the tip of the iceberg as the scammer’s target is your personal information to help them scam you again in the future,” Rickard said.

“Scammers use fake gift card promotions to trick consumers into handing over their personal information such as banking details or passwords, which are later used to steal your money or your identity, or to on-sell to other scammers.”

She urged consumers to protect their personal information by verifying whether or not an offer was legitimate by checking if it was listed on the retailers’ official website or by calling the retailers’ official customer service line.

How these scams work:

  • You receive an email or text message out of the blue, or come across a social media post, claiming that you have been selected to receive or have the chance to win a gift card from a well-known company.
  • The email, message or post appears legitimate, using brand names and official logos to convince you it’s the real deal.
  • As with many legitimate offers and online posts, you might be asked to complete a survey or pass on an offer to others before you can claim the gift card or voucher.
  • Upon completing the survey, forwarding or accepting the offer you will generally be directed to a well-constructed web page. Here, you will be prompted to provide personal information such as your phone number, address and bank account details.
  • After handing over your personal information, you may receive a fake gift voucher or alternatively, receive nothing at all. You may also begin to receive unsolicited emails and phone calls requesting more information that the scammer may use to commit identity theft and other fraud.

Consumers were also urged to avoid clicking links which may take them to fake websites or to download malware.

“If you get an email supposedly from a well-known company, before clicking, hover your computer mouse over the URL or link,” the ACCC said.

“If the address after the ‘@’ symbol doesn’t end with the company’s name and .com, it’s likely to be a scam.

Also, if you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately.

You can report scams to the ACCC via the SCAMwatch report a scam (link is external) page or by calling 1300 795 995.

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