Fraudsters are targeting Christmas bargain-hunters who have switched to online shopping amid coronavirus, according to Finder.
Online shopping fraud has more than doubled in the past 12 months, putting well-meaning Christmas shoppers at risk.
Figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission show online shopping fraud is up 111% in October 2020, compared to October 2019.
More than $666,000 was lost to such fraud in October 2020, with the average loss at $499 per case.
That’s up from $316,139 in October 2019 where Aussies were duped out of $365 per scam.
If that trend continues, Australian consumers could lose more than $700,000 to scammers this December, during the peak of Christmas shopping.
The research shows social media platforms, internet pages and email were increasingly being used by criminals to carry out these scams.
Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder, said the demand for online shopping increased the opportunities for fraudsters.
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“Festive fraud is likely to be the highest on record in 2020 as criminals ruthlessly adjust their approach to pursue those consumers shopping online,” she said.
“With Christmas fast approaching, cyber criminals will be stepping up their efforts by impersonating genuine sellers and businesses.”
Online shopping scams roped in over $340,000 for crooks in December 2019 – with 35-44 year old’s losing more than any other age group.
Finder research shows in March 2020 Aussies were spending 4.2 hours per week online shopping.
“As shoppers enter the peak season for ordering online, it’s more important than ever that consumers protect themselves online,” she said.
“Do some research on the authenticity and trustworthiness of a website before you hand over your hard earned cash.
“Don’t make it easy for the grinch to steal Christmas.”
How to avoid online shopping scams:
- Research the seller. Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money.
- Check reviews of the business from other consumers. By sticking to reliable brands you already shop with, and trusted lists of verified deals, you can ensure you're avoiding any dodgy deals.
- Update passwords. The strength of a password is a deterrent to a hacker, also try to use a unique password for each of your accounts.
- Protect yourself. Take advantage of protection from your bank. Banks have sophisticated systems to detect potential fraud on debit and credit cards.
Check what your bank offers. Some offer a zero liability guarantee for debit cards and will reimburse you for unauthorised transactions.
Others will let you shop through platforms like Apple Pay or Android Pay while using biometrics for additional security.
Some will let you set-up two-step authentication for online shopping, so you need a code from a text message before you can purchase.
- Report. Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam.