With the busy Christmas season still in full swing, many people are now trying to find the best Boxing Day sales. While people are focusing on the best deals, savings and offers any retail or online shop can offer across the country, scammer season has also been heightened.

Every year, scams cost Australians, businesses and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars and cause emotional harm to victims and their families.

Everyone is vulnerable to scams so everyone needs information about how to identify and avoid being scammed. Some people think that only the gullible and greedy fall victim to scams. The truth is scammers are clever and if you don’t know what to look out for, anyone can fall victim to a scam.

They are getting smarter, moving with the times to take advantage of new technology, new products or services and major events to create believable stories that will convince you to part with your money or personal details.

Visiting our North Paramatta Village, Kay McCormick from NSW Fair Trading Australia hosted a seminar for our residents on how best to avoid scams this Christmas season. Scammers online can normally be found through suspicious emails, replica retail store websites, fake social media accounts or classified/auction websites.

Shopping online for Christmas presents, offers the flexibility of shopping at home or on the go. Unfortunately, scammers also like to prey on victims online.

Scammers now have the tools and resources available to them to create convincing replica retail store websites such as Harvey Norman or Woolworths, they can also create replica social media accounts as well.

One of the biggest tip-off if something isn’t right about a particular site, is the method in which you pay for an item. Any site only offering payment through wire transfer or any uncommon means of payment is an instant red flag.

If you have the resources available, find out exactly who you’re dealing with online. If dealing with an Australian retail store, getting in contact will be much easier

Shopping online through popular auction websites such as Ebay, is a great way to find items cheaper than retail stores. However, scammers can use this to their advantage. If you’ve been offered a second chance to purchase an item, be extremely cautious.

Scammers will ask you to pay outside of the auction site. If you do, your money will be lost and you won’t get what you paid for, and the auction site will not be able to help you.

Make sure to always check the seller is reputable. Check out the reviews of past experiences of customers, research their refund policies, and make sure they have a complain services contact.

Online classifieds scams are one of the most common scams people face online. If you  come across a particular item and the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

Scammers will use legitimate classified websites such as Gumtree, posting items like rental properties, used cars, electronic equipment  or machinery.

Sometimes the scammer can claim that they are travelling or have moved overseas and that an agent will deliver the goods following receipt of payment.

If the payment has been made the seller will be uncontactable and you will not receive the item. 

To avoid a situation like this, never consider an option from a buyer with a money up-front arrangement via unique payment methods. Always use the secure website payment methods and not some third party website.

Christmas is a time of giving, but unfortunately the scammers only have taking on their mind. Always be cautious when looking online for goods or services, should you run into any issues with payments always contact your bank, or if you wish to report a scam please visit https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/