While Facebook and social media have become a regular part of daily life, the ACCC warns that the fastest growing area for scams is online shopping.
On Thursday, ACCC’s deputy chair Delia Rickard appeared on 3AW with host Tom Elliott – who recently fell victim to an online shopping scam on Facebook. Elliot explained he saw an advertisement on Facebook promoting a massive surfboard sale last month.
He clicked the link to purchase one and received an email a few days later to explain his order would take a few weeks to process. He didn’t think anything of it and a month later after not receiving his item, checked the email again. After some investigating he discovered the website listed didn’t exist. He later found out he was the victim of a scammer who uses fake Facebook ads to scam people.
“I thought Facebook was better than this,” he said on the show. “I thought they sort of checked out these type of ads and got rid of the scammy ones.”
Rickard said it was incredibly common for people to be caught out by fake ads on social media and that the fastest growing area of scams are in online shopping.
“An awful lot of them happen on social media, including and especially Facebook,” she warned. “I would say to you that they do get rid of some, but there are way too many on their site.”
One of the key ways to stop scams from appearing on Facebook is to let the social media website know immediately if you’ve fallen victim to a scam or spot a fake ad. Elliot explained that he tried to locate the ad he clicked a month ago, but that it’s now gone.
Rickard explained the ACCC speaks with Facebook on the issue and that the social media giant does check for scam ads, but they unfortunately can’t catch them all.
“It’s particularly hard with things like online shopping because there is that delay and so much of what we buy is from overseas,” she added. “You don’t necessarily screenshot the ad and things when you purchase so you’ve got all the details to feed back.”
Sadly, many people don’t realise something is wrong until it’s too late, making it harder for officials to track down the scammers. It’s common for scammers to set up ads that offer goods that don’t actually exist at cheap prices. Unsuspecting victims click the ads, make purchases and usually receive a fake confirmation email. It’s not until the goods fail to arrive that they realise something isn’t quite right.
The first thing people should do when they realise they’ve been scammed is to contact their bank immediately to get a charge back. It doesn’t always happen though, which is why it’s important to remain wary online.
One of the best things to do is to research before making a purchase from an unfamiliar online store.
“If you’re buying from a site you’re not familiar with and it seems like a particularly good deal, always do a quick Google search to see what others have had to say about it because people luckily are fairly quick to go online and complain when they’ve been ripped off,” Rickard recommended.