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Christmas Scam Rises 47%, Consumers Warned

Consumers have been warned about cybercriminals attempting to scam them ahead of the Christmas period.

Westpac has issued a warning to be extra careful, as new data revealed buying and selling scams have jumped 47% compared with this time last year.

These scams are usually advertised through social media ads, online market places, and fake websites, offering cheap prices for those looking to purchase.

With gift giving at its peak this time of year, these frauds have reached their peak, according to Ben Young, head of fraud at Westpac.

“Scammers often target customers at this time of year when people are spending more and can sometimes be a bit more distracted.”

“To put this into perspective, Westpac facilitated more than 31 million point-of-sale transactions during the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, leading to a 5 per cent increase in fraud-related calls.”

He said buyers seeking bargains should be on high alert on highly sought after products, especially if the price is too good to be true.

Although scammers ramp up efforts around Christmas, Young warns other kinds of cons are still out there.

“Investment scams remain one of the biggest challenges, accounting for more than half of all losses. These scams can be appealing because they promise lucrative returns and scammers invest a lot of time grooming victims, making them very difficult to spot.”

“Other common scam tactics include issuing fake invoices with altered payment details and tricking you into downloading software or installing apps on your devices that allow the scammer to access personal information like emails, passwords or even your banking details.”

“Always call a business or supplier to independently confirm if payment details are accurate before sending any money, never click on links sent via SMS or email and be cautious about anyone who instructs you to urgently download an app or install a program onto your mobile or computer.”

According to Young, Westpac has detected over 60% of all scam cases in customers, with prevention initiatives saving them over $235 million.

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