Shoppers are being warned to watch out for scams as they scour the internet for Christmas deals this festive season.
The ACCC says there has been a staggering 42 per cent increase in online scams this year, with that number expected to rise as shoppers browse the internet for gifts.
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“More people have been shopping online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and scammers are now targeting people doing their Christmas shopping, including in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Scammers create fake websites that look like genuine online stores, offering products at very low prices and victims will either receive a fake item or nothing at all.”
“They also post fake ads on classified websites, often claiming they are travelling and someone else will deliver the goods, but the item never arrives, and the victim can no longer contact the seller.”
Losses on classified websites, such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, have increased by 60 per cent this year, to $4.5 million.
According to the latest Scamwatch figures, the riskiest purchases are pets, shoes, vehicles, phones, computers and drones.
How to avoid a scam
Ms Rickard shared a number of tips for Christmas shoppers to avoid getting stung when buying gifts this holiday season.
“Watch out for popular products being sold at prices much lower than on other websites and sellers requesting payment through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency,” Ms Rickard said.
“Take the time to consider who you are dealing with and don’t be pressured by special offers.”
“Do your research by checking independent reviews of online stores or the seller’s history on classified websites.”
“If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.”
Most financial institutions offer a charge back service for credit cards and will dispute a credit transaction with the merchant if they still exist.
More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help.