Heading into the Christmas season, Aussies are making more purchases than any other time of year and in 2019 a large portion of these are done online. Because why not avoid the ridiculous cues and car parks of your local shopping centre?

Well… while you may be a regular and fierce online shopper, the ACCC are putting out a warning to keep an eye out for those on Santa’s naughty list, the scammers among us that are looking to profit during this giving season.

They’re reporting that “losses from online shopping scams (in 2019) are over $4 million, well in excess of the 2018 total figure of $3.28 million” – and this is with the month of December still to come…

The ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard is warning that “some of the most commonly reported products that scammers are attempting to sell this year are shoes, smartphones and tickets to events, with losses from these items so far exceeding half a million dollars”.

So what exactly does an online scam look like?

The ACCC have pointed out two notable examples – fake retailers and fake online stores

Fake retailers are found more often than not on second-hand stores like Ebay, Gumtree and more recently Facebook Marketplace. They may have fake reviews, fake photos and entirely fake products! If you’re not entirely sure about the legitimacy of an online retailer or re-seller, it’s safest to inspect the product yourself. In the cases that you simply can’t get to the product but are desperate to have it, consider paying through PayPal. They allow you to dispute a transaction up to 180 days after payment, which gives you the best chance of getting your money back.

Fake online stores a touch more malicious. They’re websites that look like genuine retailers, but are used to steal credit card and personal information. It’s VERY important to double check any links you might click or otherwise websites you might visit – read and re-read the URL before anything else.

If you’re quite confident in your ability to navigate the internet without harm, look out for family and friends that are more vulnerable. Don’t discriminate any which way, I’ve seen some of the smartest around me click some of the most incredibly obvious malicious links… people that have grown up with the internet!

Just remember that anti-virus isn’t everything, remain vigilant and heed the warning of the ACCC. Should you fall victim to one of these scams, contact your bank immediately and report it to Scamwatch!