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Tuesday, 11 December 2018 11:44

Warning: Beware of holiday season scams

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Australians have been warned of a raft of holiday season scams, including scammers setting up online shopping scams and phony travel scams and attempting to trick people in believing they’ve won a holiday or scored a really good deal on a travel package.

The latest Scamwatch alerts released on Tuesday by the competition watchdog, the ACCC, warn that nearly $3 million has already been lost to 8700 reports of online shopping scams this year – and travel scams, offering nothing but phony prizes, have already taken nearly $135,000 from unsuspecting Internet users.

And another scam involving parcel delivery, sees scammers 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.

Scamwatch says some scammers may even call or text with claims about an unsuccessful delivery, and warns that these scams are aimed at getting people to download malware onto their computer, or give up their personal information.

To date, in 2018, people have lost about $31,000 to the "parcel delivery" scams.

“Scamwatch has also seen a massive influx of reports and money lost to tax scams,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“Scamwatch has also seen a massive influx of reports and money lost to tax scams. In November we received 7500 reports of these scams and $400,000 was reported lost.

“This isn’t a usual holiday season scam, however a lot of people are getting calls from scammers pretending to be from the tax office or the police and threatening them with arrest over unpaid tax debts.

“This is a scam. If you ever get a call or email containing threats like this, hang up the phone or delete the email.

Rickard says that the key to avoiding a scammer’s con these holidays is a “healthy dose of scepticism and research”.

“We love snagging a great deal online for a loved one’s Christmas present and the idea of a bargain holiday is perfect for many after a long year. But don’t fall for it.

“Be sceptical 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 accommodation provider directly, for example the cruise line or hotel, to check if the deal is legitimate.

“If you see a seemingly great deal on an accommodation rental website like Airbnb, make sure you only communicate and pay through the official site to avoid getting stung by a fake listing.

“We’re all expecting parcels this time of year but be careful about online links and never download attachments. If you’re wondering if a delivery notice is legitimate, check the tracking number at the Australia Post or other delivery company website, or call them directly using a number you find from an online search or the phone book.”

“While with friends and family over the holidays, consider taking the opportunity to spread the warnings about these scams particularly to those loved ones who may be vulnerable.” Rickard said.

For further information about holiday season scams click here.

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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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