Five big scams targeting you this Christmas

Sometimes we feel like a broken record, warning you to watch out for the scams that are floating around online and whilst we don’t want to scare you, we do want to make sure that are we head into the Christmas season, that you are alert.   Choice have raised our attention to five big types of scams that are active this December.  Do be alert and share the information with your friends so they too are aware of the dangers of 2016’s Christmas scams.    

1. Online Christmas Card scam 

It might seem innocuous to receive a Christmas card link from a friend via your email account.  But this is a known source of malicious software.  An email that claims to be from a family member or friend sending you a card, with a link attached, asking you to click on it should immediately raise your level of alertness.  

 “If you’re not sure about an e-greeting supposedly from someone you know, ask them if they sent it before opening it,” says Choice Magazine.  

2. Parcel delivery (or non-delivery) scam

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According to Choice, this scam sees you receiving a call or note about an unsuccessful delivery to your door.  The caller may say they are from Australia Post even though Australia Post apparently never makes phonecalls of this ilk.  Then, on the phone they ask you for your personal details like bank account card or credit card. 

Call the delivery company directly using their official number to check if the situation is legit,” says Choice Magazine.  

3. A big charity scam

Charities seem to be an easy target for scammers at Christmas, sadly.  So do watch out for people that are claiming to collect in the street or in the shopping malls.  Signs you should be concerned about according to Choice include:

  • claiming to collect for a charity that helps disaster victims or sick children
  • approach you while you’re shopping
  • send you an email
  • invite you to visit their fake website.
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Don’t donate to someone who approaches you out of the blue. Instead, consider which causes are important to you and donate to the charities directly.”

4. Gift card expiry dates

Choice say they get a lot of complaints about gift cards that expire too soon, as well as cards that have unreasonable restrictions.  So they say to be sure to “read the fine print on the card” to avoid gift cards that leave the recipient empty handed.  They spearheaded a major investigation into gift cards in 2010 that sparked a government inquiry. Unfortunately, the government decided to let the industry regulate itself.

Choice says you should look out for cards with: 

  • with no expiry date, such as those from Bunnings
  • that can be used at everyday stores, such as Coles Group & Myer or Wish (Woolworths group)
  • that can be tracked or replaced if they get lost (eg. cards that can be registered to an individual)
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and avoid the following: 

  • a short expiry date (less than one year)
  • conditions and restrictions (such as “can’t be used on weekends”)
  • fees – the Australia Post Visa gift card, for example, charges a $5.95 “purchase price”, and $4 to call customer service

5. Overpriced hampers

The last group on Choice’s lists are the hamper companies who present a list of claims that they will deliver everything you need for your Christmas feast and allow you to budget for them through an annual payment program.  Choice is calling them out though with the following insights.  They say: 

  • Goods may be overpriced compared to the cost of the same goods purchased online from Coles and Woolworths (including delivery). 
  • The usefulness and festiveness of some of the items is questionable. Chrisco’s Family Christmas Hamper includes tinned spaghetti and two-minute noodles.
  • Hamper companies also sell a range of other goods, including electronics, but check for inflated prices.

Choice magazine says to beware of the cancellation policies for Chrisco, Hamper King and Castle Hampers. Chrisco was recently charged by the ACCC for its unfair contract cancellation policy. The  policy gave Chrisco the right to continue debiting a customer’s account after the hamper had been fully paid for. The trick was that the customer had to opt-out of the direct debits – they didn’t stop automatically after the final payment.

Which scams have you come across this year already? 

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.