The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scam watch website is warning people to be careful about being caught out by holiday season scams.
“Scammers will take advantage of special days or major events like Christmas to fleece people of their money or personal information,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
In November, Scamwatch saw an influx of reports and money lost to tax scams. This has amounted to 7,500 reports of these scams, which has led to an estimated $400,000 being reported lost.
“This isn’t a usual holiday season scam; however, a lot of people are getting calls from scammers pretending to be from the tax office or the police and threatening them with arrest over unpaid tax debts.
“This is a scam. If you ever get a call or email containing threats like this, hang up the phone or delete the email,” Ms Rickard said.
Here are three common holiday season scams people should look out for according to Scamwatch:
- Online shopping scams: scammers will set up fake online stores or post goods for sale in buy swap-sell groups or online classified sites to trick people into buying items that don’t exist. This scam has cost Australians nearly $3 million in 2018, with more than 8,700 reports.
- Travel scams: scammers trick people into believing they’ve won a holiday or scored a good deal on a travel package, like a cruise. Unfortunately, the prize or the cheap accommodation are phony. In 2018 nearly $135,000 has been lost to this scam.
- Parcel delivery scams: scammers may ask you to print off a label, do a survey, claim a prize, or view the status of your delivery by clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. Some scammers may even call or text with claims about an unsuccessful delivery. These scams are aimed at getting people to download malware onto their computer or give up their personal information. People lost $31,000 to these scams in 2018.
The greatest gift this festive season, we can give our friends and family, according to Ms Rickard, is to be vigilant and share warnings about these scams, especially with those loved ones who may be more vulnerable.