Consumers warned about holiday season scammers

Scamwatch is warning consumers to be careful about being caught out by holiday season scams.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said three common scams had surfaced:

  • Online shopping scams – scammers will set up fake online stores or post goods for sale in buy-swap-sell groups or online classified sites to trick people into buying items that don’t exist. This scam has cost Australians nearly $3m in 2018, with more than 8,700 reports.
  • Travel scams – scammers trick people into believing they’ve won a holiday or scored a good deal on a travel package, such as a cruise. Unfortunately, the prize or the cheap deal are phony.
  • Parcel delivery scams – scammers may ask you to print off a label, do a survey, claim a prize, or view the status of your delivery by clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. Some scammers may even call or text with claims about an unsuccessful delivery. These scams aim to entice people to download malware onto their computer or provide their personal information.

Scammers take advantage of special days or major events such as Christmas to fleece people of their money or personal information, Ms Rickard said.

She also warned of a massive influx of reports and money lost to tax scams. In November, Scamwatch received 7,500 reports of these scams involving $400,000 in losses.

“This isn’t a usual holiday season scam,” Ms Rickard said. “However, a lot of people are receiving scams from scammers pretending to be from the tax office or the police and threatening them with arrest over unpaid tax debts.

“If you receive a call or email containing threats like this, hang up the phone or delete the email.”

Ms Rickard advised using a healthy dose of skepticism and research to avoid being the victim of scammers these holidays.

“Everyone loves snagging a great online deal for a loved one’s Christmas gift and the idea of a bargain holiday is perfect for many people after a long year,” she said. “But don’t fall for it.

“Be skeptical about an online store you haven’t used before. Do some research to see if they’re legitimate and don’t be fooled by big discounts. With travel deals, call the provider – such as the cruise line or hotel – direct to check the deal is legitimate.

“If you see a seemingly great deal on an accommodation website such as Airbnb, only communicate and pay through the official site to avoid being stung by a fake listing.

“If you’re wondering if a delivery notice is legitimate, check the tracking number at Australia Post or other delivery company website, or call them direct using a number you find from an online search or the phone book.”

Further information about holiday season scams is available at

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