BMO Business Centre is warning clients not to be scammed this silly season, with fraudsters and scammers recognising the holiday season as a great opportunity to take advantage while locals relax and let down their guard a bit.
Every year, police and the ACCC’s ScamWatch receive complaints about tens of millions of dollars lost to Christmas-related scams. Unfortunately, most people don’t get their money back.
“We all spend a bit more, eat a bit more, and stress a bit less. It’s called the ‘silly season’ for a reason.” Mr Tyler said.
Four scams to look out for this festive season include fake online shopping sites, parcel delivery emails with malware, bogus charity collections and gift cards.
Mr Tyler explained that a number of retailers had been in trouble with the consumer watchdog over the past few years in relation to gift cards.
“Some gift cards have an unreasonably short expiry date, making it unlikely that the recipient will ever redeem them. Others have restrictions on when they can be used, such as restaurant or entertainment vouchers that can’t be used at peak times. Remember to read the fine print or read the consumer rights before buying gift cards.
“If you’ve bought some presents online, you might be expecting a parcel delivery notice. But don’t open any attachments to emails you receive pretending to be from Australia Post or a courier company – they might contain malware. If you receive a suspicious email like this, delete it and run a virus scan for safety,” he said.
Fake designer brand websites that look just like the real thing, are becoming more popular as online shopping continues to grow. These sites purport to sell brand name goods at massive discounts, luring in bargain-hunting Christmas shoppers. Mr Tyler suggested buying from a well-known retailer, with contact methods and a well-documented complaints policy. While for individual brand sites, check to make sure the URL starts with ‘https’, and that there’s a protected payment option like PayPal.
“Be wary of these tricks and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and money, come holiday time. Remember to trust your instincts when it comes to spending cash or using your credit card, but don’t let a fear of scams stop you from having a great time,” Mr Tyler said.