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Monday, 25 November 2019 11:50

$4 million lost to online shopping scams, and more to come Featured

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More than $4 million has been lost to online shopping scams by Australians in 2019 so far - well in excess of the $3.8 million fleeced from unsuspecting consumers last year - and the losses are expected to mount over the busy Christmas shopping period.

The ACCC’s Scamwatch service has warned that online shoppers will be hit more by scams in the next few weeks, cautioning that scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping, including in the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

“Reported losses have tripled over the last three years and it is concerning that losses from this year are already so high,” says ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

The ACCC urges consumers to watch out for “common online shopping scams” including:

Fake websites/stores: scammers will set up fake online stores, on websites or social media, which can look like genuine online retailers. Many of these offer luxury items at very low prices but you may receive a fake item or nothing at all.

Fake sellers: scammers may pose as genuine sellers on classifieds websites. The scammer may claim they are travelling and an agent will deliver the goods once you have paid, but you won’t receive the goods and will be unable to contact the seller.

“Some of the most commonly reported products that scammers are attempting to sell this year are shoes, smartphones and tickets to events, with losses from these items so far exceeding half a million dollars,” Rickard said.

“Warning signs for online shopping scams include extremely low advertised prices and requests to pay through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency.

“We encourage everyone to do their research before making an online purchase and if purchasing expensive goods, not to make payment until they have inspected the product.”

Rickard says that “spreading scam warnings with loved ones over the holiday period” can help protect vulnerable consumers.

“Many people enjoy the convenience of online shopping but it is important to remember that there can be risks involved.

“If you do think you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible,” Rickard said.

Scamwatch has joined with the OAIC, Stay Smart Online and the eSafety Commissioner to encourage consumers to watch out for fake online stores, keep their personal information safe, pay securely online and consider the safety of tech gifts this holiday season.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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