The ACCC has told consumers to be wary of scammers trying to target them during the Christmas period.

Delia Rickard, deputy chair, ACCC says, “Scammers often try to take advantage of people during the busy Christmas period and prey on our vulnerabilities at this time of year. For example, they may take advantage of you looking for a good deal on a family holiday, searching for a loved one’s present at an online store, or even that you’re expecting a present from someone through the post.”

The consumer watchdog names three common holiday scams consumers should be looking out for; firstly, travel scams where scammers trick their victims into believing they’ve won a travel prize or scored a really good deal on a travel package, like a cruise. Unfortunately these seemingly too-good-to-be-true holidays are nothing more than a scammer’s con. In the past 12 months, nearly $86,000 has been lost to this scam, with about 1750 reports.

The second scam is online shopping scams, scammers will set up believable looking online stores to trick people into goods that don’t really exist. They might also set up fake online classified or auction site listings. They entice people with legitimate looking discounts and may even advertise items as the perfect Christmas present for a loved one. This scam has cost Australians more than $1.3 million in the past 12 months, with more than 6440 reports.

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The last scam shoppers should look out for are parcel delivery scams, with millions of packages moving across the country to get under a Christmas tree in time, scammers will send fake ‘missed delivery’ notices to potential victims. These scams are aimed at getting people to download malware or ransomware onto their PCs, which can be costly to remove; or steal their personal information. Scamwatch has received about 1700 reports of this scam in the past 12 months.

Rickard says, “Your personal information is often just as valuable to a scammer as your money so always be careful about the information you give out online. There are some simple tips you can follow to stay ahead of scammers these holidays.

“If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research on any online stores you’re using, especially if it’s for the first time. Never do a deal or make a payment outside the online auction site you are using. If you are buying from a classified website only hand over the money when you have physically inspected the goods. Finally, never open attachments or download files you receive out of the blue—no matter who the email comes from or how legitimate it looks.”

Further information about holiday season scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au

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