‘Tis the season to be safe online

It’s that time of year again when we begin preparing for the silly season. It’s natural to want to shop around for the best deal when buying Christmas gifts, so many of us will spend a lot of time online, visiting heaps of different websites to get the best bang for our buck on presents.

According to the Publicis Sapient Digital Life Index 2021, Australia wins the gold medal for being the most active market for online shopping. And if most Aussies are online shopping, then it’s fair to say that scammers are busy with online shopping this time of year too.

So busy, in fact, that The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently revealed that Australians have already lost about $12.9 million to online shopping scams this year, and Scamwatch reported that it has received more scam reports this year than the total amount of reports in 2020.

There are many ways that scammers trick people online, so at Bank of us, we’re encouraging our customers to stay alert and shop smartly this holiday season.

What is an online shopping scam?

In online shopping scams, scammers make fake online stores that look genuine and offer heavily discounted prices on popular products. They may also post fake ads on legitimate classified websites to encourage you to click through to their dodgy website. But don’t be fooled,these products are fake, or they simply never arrive after they are purchased.

What should you look out for?

Check the website’s address bar and domain to make sure it doesn’t include any weird characters or extensions, look out for poor grammar and spelling, and look at their social media pages to make sure they are who they say they are!

You should also double check that the website’s payment methods are legitimate. Scammers will try to receive payment via direct bank transfers, cryptocurrency, or even fake PayPal platforms. Make your payment through a secure payment method like a credit or debit card, verified PayPal platform, or credit services like Zip Pay and AfterPay.

Scammers may even ask you to pay using unrelated gift cards you have to purchase. This should definitely raise alarm bells. But don’t get us wrong, if you’re lucky enough to have been a gifted a voucher for your favourite store or a cash card like one from Visa, redeeming it online is a secure way to purchase your items.

Scammers don’t just create bogus websites; they can also target people expecting deliveries. Package courier companies like Australia Post and StarTrack will never call, text or email you to request payment or personal or financial information. If you are contacted in this way, hang up or delete the text or email and then block the sender. A safer, more secure way to track your delivery and ensure you’re contacting the real delivery company is to use their App or verified website. If in doubt, do not click the links in these messages as the website linked may be fake.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. If you’re a Bank of us customer, then you can click here to get in touch with us.

You can also report the scam to Scamwatch.