SCAMS: Watch out for fake websites this festive season
CENTRAL Queenslanders are being reminded to keep an eye out for fake websites while doing their online Christmas shopping this festive season.
According to the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, scammers often set up fake online stores and social media pages, claiming to sell popular items at incredibly low prices.
The group advised if a product’s advertised price seems too good to be true, there’s a very good chance it is.
Other telltale signs of an online scam include a website with minimal information about delivery, returns or contact details, and requests to pay via unsecure and unusual methods.
Detective Inspector Vince Byrnes from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group said scammers often set up fake online stores with products at “too-good-to-be-true” prices to attempt to trick shoppers into buying stock they don’t have.
“It is best to use online retailers or brands you are aware of, trust and offer buyer protections,” he said.
“Be very wary of shopping websites that don’t use secure payment methods and offer big discounts for direct payment into accounts.
“And please, never pay anything via cryptocurrency.”
However, even when shopping in online marketplaces and classified sites, scammers are active on these sites and can pose as either buyers or sellers.
According to the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, in the case of fake sellers, the biggest warning sign should be an item listed at a much lower price than similar items on the site.
Scammers often claim they are out of town and an agent will deliver the item upon receipt of payment.
Payment requested through a wire service, money order, gift cards or in cryptocurrency – all of which are difficult to recover once sent – is another telltale sign of a scam, according to the group.
Do not be tricked into sending a copy of your driver's licence to someone you don’t know, even if they send you a copy of one. Scammers can use this tactic to steal your ID to scam more people.
The group warns to be wary of unusual payment requests, and always inspect an item before agreeing to a sale, arranging to meet where possible in a public space, during the day with a friend or family member.
With retail marketing in overdrive at this time of the year, phishing scams also become more prevalent.
According to the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, scammers often use this method – known as phishing emails or smishing for texts or instant messaging to drive people toward a fake website.
From here, scammers may attempt to steal money or personal data, or may infect a person’s device with malware.
Avoid clicking on links and if you are unsure about the message authenticity, delete it and check it by calling the organisation using contact details from a verified website.
Parcel delivery scams are another form of phishing and fake website scam, where scammers use the name and branding of well-known delivery companies, to send fake “missed delivery” notices to potential victims.
These can even appear in the same message stream as legitimate company messages as scammers can “spoof” phone numbers.
Detective Inspector Byrnes said most people expect parcels at this time of the year.
“Be careful about online links and never download attachments,” he said.
“To check a parcel delivery message is legitimate, check the tracking number on the delivery company website or call them directly.”
To learn more about scams, go to www.scamwatch.gov.au or the Queensland Police Service’s R U in Control campaign at www.police.qld.gov.au/safety-and-preventing-crime/r-u-in-control.