‘Tis the season for scammers: ACCC flags common festive season scams

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Like tax time, the holiday season sees fraudsters capitalising on naive, stressed, and time-poor Aussies. If you know what scams tend to do the rounds and what to do when you come across one, you can avoid falling victim.

Scamwatch has reported that Aussies have lost almost $400 million to fraudsters between January and September this year. The last three months of 2022 were a peak month for fraudsters, and the ACCAN, or Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, states that this year is no different. 

'Unfortunately, we do anticipate there will be a higher proportion of scamming through the Christmas period,' ACCAN Chief Executive, Andrew Williams told the ABC.

Heidi Snell, executive general manager at the ACCC's National Anti-Scam Centre agreed, saying that online scams are 'rife' at Christmas, urging Aussies to be wary of sites impersonating big brands.

Scams to watch for

Parcel scams

Aussie consumers have lost over $700,000 to parcel scams from January to September this year – that's more than 12 times the amount lost for all of 2022 (about $56,000).

Parcel scams leverage the fact that many Aussies are expecting online orders containing their family’s Christmas gifts. Fraudsters will typically send a message about your gift being stuck in customs, or that you need to confirm your delivery address or payment information or it will be returned to the sender. 

Do not click on any embedded links if you receive a message like this, and reach out to the company that allegedly sent the message if you’re concerned that your information might be incorrect. 

Marketplace scams

Marketplace scams usually target people selling items on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, using fake profiles and emails to try and con you into giving away your personal and financial information. Be especially wary of the PayID scam targeting sellers on online marketplaces.

Online shopping scams

Online shopping scams will create near-identical replicas of popular retail sites for scamming purposes. Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true, especially if they ask for payment in the form of gift cards or PayID, for example.

Staying safe

There's a high likelihood you'll come across at least one of these scams in the lead-up to the silly season. In fact, over a third of Aussies are contacted by phone or text scammers each week. To avoid falling victim, don't reply, and report the scam to Scamwatch. 

If you're unsure whether or not the text or email could be a scam, reach out to Scamwatch and the company allegedly messaging you. Additionally, look for any telltale signs a message could be fraudulent, like spelling mistakes or dodgy-looking links. 

Hannah Geremia
Written by
Hannah Geremia
Hannah has had over six years of experience in researching, writing, and editing quality content. She loves gaming, dancing, and animals, and can usually be found under a weighted blanket with a cup of coffee and a book.

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