Scammers exploit Aussie hearts and wallets this festive season

Westpac

Westpac is warning Australians to be extra careful of scams in the lead up to Christmas and the summer holidays.

Westpac data has found this year’s Black Friday sales were a bumper year for purchases, in which the bank facilitated over 32 million customer interactions1 and over 14 million point-of-sale transactions. Additionally, a 17 per cent uplift in fraud-related calls were received in the days following.

Westpac General Manager of Financial Crime and Fraud Prevention, Chris Whittingham, says: “The festive season is a joyous time for most of us, but for scammers this is an opportunity to take advantage of the generous hearts and wallets of Australians.

“This may include buying and selling scams with fake websites offering competitive deals, enticing many Australians who may be rethinking their household budgets amid cost-of-living pressures.

“Charity scams are also common at Christmas, exploiting our kindness through fake donation websites or even door knocking appeals.

“All Australians should take extra care when shopping online and be especially cautious of offers that may appear too good to be true, or that seek payment in new or unusual ways like through wire transfer, cryptocurrency or via instalments.

“If you’re buying something from a business you’ve never dealt with or heard of before, consider running an online search to first verify if the business is legitimate,” Mr Whittingham said.

Customers can protect themselves when shopping online by using a Digital Card, available via the Westpac app. This has a dynamic 3-digit CVC code which changes every day for added security, reducing fraud by 80 per cent compared to those who use a static card.

“We also urge customers, particularly business customers, to use PayID. This allows you to link your payee details to a registered ABN or mobile number, providing peace of mind that funds are being sent to a legitimate account,” Mr Whittingham added.

Common Christmas scams

  • Fake parcel delivery. Scammers will impersonate well-known delivery services and send text messages telling you a parcel is on the way with a link to track delivery. The link may download software onto your device allowing the scammer to steal money or personal information, or it may take you to a fake website. Never clink links sent via SMS or email and always visit the business website directly to find out about your order.
  • Buying & selling scams. These are often fake websites selling goods or services at competitive prices. Be wary if you’re buying something from a business you’ve never heard of or bought something from before, and always look them up online to first check if they’re legitimate.
  • Charity scams. Scammers often take advantage of Australians’ generosity and support by setting up fake donation websites or even by posing as door-knocking appeals. Always check if an organisation is legitimate before offering a payment, including looking them up on the national charity register.
  • Investment scams. Scams offering quick, high returns continue to dominate reported cases and may seem especially enticing at this time of year among those seeking a quick cash injection. If an offer appears too good to be true, it probably is. Always speak with a professional before making an investment.

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