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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched a SCAMwatch service due to a rise in scammers looking for a festive bonus by creaming money or personal details off unsuspecting consumers. Among the Scams identified are fake flight booking web sites, where consumers think they have booked flights online but the website they booked through is fake and so are their bookings.”Although scammers are always around, they have greater opportunity at Christmas to sneak under the radar of consumers who are busy with trying to buy the perfect present or arrange their summer holidays,” warned Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Peter Kell.

“That’s why the ACCC has launched a Christmas SCAMwatch alert reminding consumers to bolster their defences.”

Scams around at this time of the year include:

Holiday scams: scammers approach victims on their holidays offering expensive memberships to scam travel clubs and fake discount hotel vouchers

Online shopping scams: the perfect gift is purchased online, but never arrives

Romance scams: if someone you have met online asks you for money as a result of some misfortune it may be a scam

Charity scams: charities often seek donations at this time of year – scammers try to camouflage themselves as genuine charities sites and capitalise on consumers’ generosity

Telephone scams: particularly prevalent and varied this year including cold calls claiming computers infected by viruses, offering fake government grants or seeking bank details in order to ‘process’ a bank fee or tax refund

Weight loss scams: for those anxious to shed Christmas kilos, ‘miracle’ weight loss scams may be attractive – be wary

Door to door scams: an easy way to shop or lose money?  Some traders are legitimate but others may sell poor quality products with no guarantees

Visa scams: when trying to help a friend or family member to visit from overseas in time for Christmas, these ‘guaranteed services’ may not be all the seem, and
Lottery scams: out of the blue winnings from a lottery you never entered? Scammers ask for money to ‘process’ your win but you will never receive the money.

Full details about how these scams operate and how to protect yourself are available from the SCAMwatch website.

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