Everyone loves an online discount, but some deals really are too good to be true.
More than 1,000 Australians were fleeced of more than $150,000 in total last year by fraudulent online ‘stores’, the consumer watchdog warns, with some sites appearing incredibly convincing with their offers of well-known brands and great prices.
“Scammers set up fake websites that look like genuine online stores, including professional-looking design, stolen logos, and even a ‘.com.au’ domain name and/or stolen ABNs,” Delia Rickard, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair, says.
Rickard says that while it’s good to remember the adage that “if something looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t true,” there are other tell-tale signs buyers can look for to tell the difference between a fake site and a legitimate retailer.
“The biggest tip-off is the method of payment,” she says. “Scammers will often ask you to pay using a money order, a pre-loaded money card, or wire transfer, even gift cards from well-known retailers. If you make a payment this way to a scammer, you’re highly unlikely to see that money again.”
The ACCC has some additional tips on how to avoid being scammed by a fake store.