Scammers make the naughty list targeting last minute shoppers

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The countdown to Christmas is well and truly on. With just under a week to go until the big day arrives, many families are checking their lists twice, still scouring the internet for deals on gifts that (hopefully) will grace their doorsteps by Christmas. 

However, massive discounts aren't the only thing you should keep on the lookout for. Scams are rife around the holidays, and this year is no different. Scammers love the lead-up to Christmas because they’re able to use the increased volume of emails and texts from major retailers to their advantage. All it takes is one email or SMS scam to lead you to a fake site, putting you and your financial safety at risk. 

Last year, Telstra blocked around 66% more scams in November and December compared to the previous three months. From January to November this year, Aussies have already lost over $7 million, and this number is only expected to increase as we reach the Christmas rush and Boxing Day sales. 

Telstra’s Cleaner Pipes Program works hard to block scam calls and texts before they can reach their customers, but evidently, some slip through the cracks. Darren Pauli, Telstra’s Cyber Security Expert, warns that Aussies should remain extra vigilant during this time of year.

Beware of dodgy QR codes – there’s currently a spike in email scams using QR codes to direct consumers to fake websites.

Avoid engaging with fake emails and SMS’ – fake emails and SMS scams are getting progressively more sophisticated. Some are even using AI to correct the bad grammar and spelling errors we associate with scams. These fraudsters know that the last-minute Christmas chaos means you might not notice a legit-looking email with a fake URL. Always double-check the URL and sender, and don’t click on any attachments or URLs if you think it might not be 100% safe.

Ignore impersonation scams – scammers will target Aussies by pretending to be a well-known courier like AusPost, and inform them that their parcel is delayed because they haven't paid a fee or their address is incorrect. They might also contact you pretending to be from a bank or a reputable brand, offering a discount or asking you to change your password via the provided link.

Pay attention to payment methods – Alarm bells should sound if you are asked to pay for the goods in your cart with gift cards or any method that offers less purchase protection (like direct deposit).

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re dealing with a scammer, visit Telstra’s Active Scams page, or reach out to the retailer being impersonated through their official channels and do not click on any embedded links or attachments.

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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