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Stay safe while holiday shopping online

We all love a good bargain but sometimes the frenzy of grabbing an amazing deal can lead to letting your guard down.

Whether it is Black Friday or Boxing Day, sales season is the perfect time for scammers to swoop in and take advantage of the shoppers focused on securing that bargain.

That’s why it’s important to remain super cautious about the offers you see, links you are sent, and deals you fine across when shopping online. If something looks suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is!

Some ways that online shopping scammers can impersonate seasonal sales:

  • Fake goods or too-good-to-be-true prices
    Sellers may offer products that are malicious (e.g. fake anti-virus for your new device) or simply too good to be true (e.g. highly discounted designer brand name items) which you may never receive.
  • Fake shopping websites
    Scammers may create fake shopping websites resembling well-known brands, enticing shoppers with deals at unusual or ridiculously low prices – fake shopping websites can even appear in top search results.
  • Marketplace scams
    Scammers post fake ads on marketplace platforms appearing as legitimate sellers offering items at wildly low prices like designer bags. They’ll usually ask you to make an advance payment to their account or use the PayPal ‘friends and family’ option. Sadly, your goods will never arrive, and you have no way of getting your money back.
  • Delivery scams
    Scammers may pretend to be a trusted post or courier delivery provider, sending you text messages asking for money or personal information to ensure you get your goods. These messages may be direct links to malicious software downloads or direct you to fake websites.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself and your dollars from scams when shopping online at any time of the year.

1. Be cautious with tempting offers

Scams may offer rare or highly sought-after items, such as concert tickets, often creating a sense of urgency to purchase. Be sure to pause and assess offers, especially if they seem too good to be true!

2. Beware of new online stores

Be careful when shopping on new online stores selling products at unusually low prices. To double-check, use a search engine and type the “website name” plus the word “scam” and carefully review the results.

3. Don’t click on unexpected or unusual links

Never click links in emails, text messages, or pop-up messages on social media – they might lead you to a fake website! Search for the official website yourself in your browser.

4. Pay attention to URL spelling

Look for weird spelling in search results and website URLs, including dashes, typos, or symbols in the company name of an online store.

5. Check website information

It’s important to know how to identify fake shopping websites. A legitimate online store should include essential information like a privacy policy, ABN, terms and conditions, contact details, and offer secure payment methods like credit cards and PayPal. Check reviews about the company before handing your dollars over.

6. Use PayID and beware of unusual payment methods

Where possible, use PayID or BPAY, and make sure the name matches the person or company you’re paying. If it doesn’t match – don’t pay! Don’t consider payments requested in gift cards, unless it matches the company (e.g. gift cards for corresponding retailers).

7. Inspect items in person

Whenever possible, view items – including pets – in person before making a purchase! Online marketplace scammers are very devious – they may misrepresent items or provide excuses and strange reasons about why they can’t show you an item.

Remember, something looks suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is!

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Stay safe while holiday shopping online