Online scams rise: How to stay cyber safe this holiday spending season

By Polly Fleeting ·

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales ramping up and Christmas not far off, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has urged online shoppers to be extra vigilant. 

According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, online shopping scams have increased by a massive 42% in 2020. 

The platform revealed that it has received over 12,000 reports of scams this year, equaling nearly $7 million in losses so far. 

The ACCC’s deputy chair Delia Rickard says that due to COVID-19 restrictions, more people have turned to shopping online. She says that scammers are now narrowing in on people doing Christmas shopping, including those jumping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. 

“Scammers create fake websites that look like genuine online stores, offering products at very low prices and victims will either receive a fake item or nothing at all,” Rickard said. 

“They also post fake ads on classified websites, often claiming they are travelling and someone else will deliver the goods, but the item never arrives and the victim can no longer contact the seller.”

Similarly, the losses due to scams on popular second hand websites like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree have skyrocketed to $4.5 million (an increase of 60%). 

How can I stay safe when shopping online?  

If you plan to get your holiday shopping done online this year, you’ll need to be careful about where you make your purchases. 

Having knowledge of how to safeguard things like your credit card or debit card details, as well as other logins, could save you from being scammed. 

Security awareness advocate APAC at KnowBe4, Jacqueline Jayne says it’s important that if you suspect any fraudulent activity with your credit card number, to contact your bank immediately. 

But there are some ways to reduce the risk of being scammed in the first place. 

“These fraudulent purchases can use up available credit or get cards locked down for fraud, keeping consumers from doing the shopping they need to get done,” she said.

“In addition, the hassle and stress of dealing with stolen credit card information or fraudulent purchases is not something anyone needs to be dealing with during the holidays.” 

So with help from KnowBe4, here are some handy tips to safely shopping online this Christmas: 

  • Use unique usernames and passwords: This may seem like a chore but it’s worth it as scammers can log in to multiple websites if they have the same password. Plus, you can use a password manager on your device to create and manage your different details. 
  • Enable two-factor authentication: By setting up this feature, it means you will have to enter a code (sent via text or email) after you enter your login details. This creates another safeguard against anyone trying to hack into your account. 
  • Check if there is a padlock next to the URL of a site: If there is a padlock on the site you are entering your details, it means the site is secure. Alternatively, if there is no symbol then don’t risk entering in any of your information. 
  • Question good deals: Something looks too good to be true? Be skeptical. Do thorough research on the retailer and also compare the price of the same or similar items from a reputable retailer. If the price is way too low, it’s likely it’s dodgy. 
  • Go with who you know: Buying from online retailers you have shopped with before, or even sticking to big brand names, is an easy way to avoid questioning how legit a certain site is. These types of sites often also offer a secure and encrypted connection for transactions. 

If you need a credit card to suit your online shopping needs this holiday season, check out some options below or head to our credit card comparison hub for more.

Compare Credit Cards - last updated January 23, 2021

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