Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales: the scams to watch out for

Despite the chaos that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, Australians are expended to spend up big this festive season.

According to Finder, the average person is planning to spend $893 this Christmas – that equates to over $17 billion nationally.

The festive season sales begin with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with close to $2 billion in sales expected across the four-day period.

But cybersecurity experts warn it’s also a prime time for scammers to be out in force, trying to steal your personal data.

Scam frenzy

Figures from the ACCC’s Scamwatch show losses to online shopping scams have increased 42 per cent in 2020, with almost $7 million duped out of Aussie wallets.

Scamwatch has received over 12,000 reports of online shopping scams, with classified websites such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree making up the bulk of those reports.

Pets top the list of scammer targets, followed by shoes, phones, computers, drones and toys.

Domain game

Fake websites are one of the easiest ways scammers can dupe you into handing over your details.

“What they’ll do is they’ll spin up fake websites that maybe look like retailers that everybody’s familiar with,” Garrett O’Hara, Principal Technical Consultant with Mimecast and cybersecurity expert told the News Fix podcast.

“Completely fake – designed really just to do nothing more than steal your information and steal your credit cards.”

Another way scammers bait unsuspecting victims is with emails about fake deliveries.

Taking a closer look can reveal a scam website. Credit: Carlos_bcn/Getty Images/iStockphoto

“It will be generally on email and most people have seen some version of those at this point – the ones where they tell you that there’s a package that is delayed and click here to see where it is.

“People kind of go, ‘what package is that?’ and they click on the link and potentially then there’s some malware installed on their computer.”

Another common way for scammers to get your info is to mirror a popular domain.

“That’s the URL or the part of the website that you would type in ‘the name of the’”, O’Hara said.

“They will often change one character, one letter within the domain. So at a glance, it looks like something you’re familiar with, but actually, it’s a completely different website.

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