Christmas scam alert issued: Have you been tricked?

The ACCC’s Scamwatch has issued a new scam alert to warn shoppers of a chain of emails doing the rounds.

The ACCC’s Scamwatch has issued a new scam alert to warn shoppers of a chain of emails doing the rounds.

While it may be the season of giving, some people are taking advantage of charitable spirits by giving them an offer they can’t resist.

In the latest alert, Scamwatch said the below:

Scamwatch is warning Christmas shoppers to be cautious when looking online for gifts. During and after Christmas Scamwatch experiences an increase in reports of fake online sellers looking to cash in on the festive season shopping spree.

This year, scammers are using labels like Pandora and Michael Kors to trick consumers who are looking online to find designer items at a cheaper price.

Scammers set up fake websites that look just like genuine online stores. They copy websites of legitimate companies and designer labels and may even pretend to be Australian-based by using a ‘’ domain.

The biggest tip-off that a website is a scam is the way they ask for payment. Scammers often ask you to pay by wire transfer, pre-loaded debit cards or even bitcoins. These payment methods are not secure and are rarely used by legitimate retailers. If you send your money this way, it’s just like sending cash – you’re unlikely to receive the goods or get your money back.

If you’re shopping online this Christmas, do your research. Read reviews or comments and look out for irregular payment methods.

How these scams work

  • You receive an unsolicited email or text message advertising products at an unbelievably low price.
  • The email or text message links to a website that looks legitimate.
  • The scammer insists on immediate payment and asks you to buy a debit card, send the money by wire transfer or even pay for the goods using bitcoins.
  • Once payment is made you do not receive the product and any attempt to contact the seller is useless.

Protect yourself

  • When shopping online, find out exactly who you are dealing with. If it is an Australian company, you are generally in a better position to sort out the problem if something goes wrong.
  • Check for external user reviews about the website. If someone has had a bad experience they are likely to have written about it somewhere.
  • Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service—look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal.
  • Avoid any arrangement that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
  • Think twice before using virtual currencies such as bitcoin—they do not have the same protections as other transaction methods so you can’t get your money back once you send it.
  • Check the website’s refund or returns policy, and if there is a complaint or dispute handling processes in case something goes wrong.
  • Consider using an ‘escrow’ service if you’re buying from an online auction. Escrow services will only release your payment to the trader or seller when you’ve confirmed that the product has arrived and is what you paid for. Only use a reputable escrow service—online auction sites may provide a list of recommended providers.
  • When buying from an online classifieds website, only pay when you have physically inspected or received the goods. If you have any doubts about the product or the person selling it, don’t go ahead with the deal.

Tell us, have you been the victim of a scam this year? What warning would you give to others?

  1. Why buy on line so you can be scammed remember these online business dont pay tax .nor does the profit stay in our country. So why not buy from a shop or department store .if we dont then we are adding to unemployment and business closeing its doors

    • When I buy online I buy from Australian companies, so they are employing pople in their warehouses, and the money and profits are staying in this country. If the service was better in our department stores, and the choice of products widened, I might consider buying from them.

  2. Sorry Meichelle that is incorrect, I buy a lot on-line and all from AUSTRALIAN companies and only by paying by PayPal which is safe and secure and the money DEFINITELY stays right here in Australia. I have been shopping on-line for many years and I have NEVER been duped, I would advise you to check out the company before you order and always look for the little security lock on their website before you order anything, and above all enjoy the experience.

  3. I don’t shop on line, but have seen both the fake companies mentioned. I prefer to see what I am buying and our retail shops need our business I always compare prices and even what’s on line and have found I can be just as savvy going direct to the retailers plus I like to support our local shops as small businesses are always struggling

  4. I live in a country town and sometimes shop online. I only buy from businesses I know and will not buy from unsolicited sites. The reputable sites use PayPal or similar payment methods.

  5. You get what you pay for people! If it is soooooo!!!!cheap it is fake .Buy it at a reputable store,get it straight awayyour not satisfied you can always return it ,straight away

  6. Could easily have been just at this very second, until I showed it to my grandson who confirmed same…

  7. I only open emails from people I know and some sites which I know are trustworthy sites; the rest I delete. I don’t shop regularly on-line but the few occasions I have I have used PayPal and have had no trouble.

  8. qjl – I lost weight 28 pounds making the 2015 champion diet that I found here on this site 3BestDiets .Com

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