Sydney, Nov 20: As the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale weekend approaches, consumers in Australia are being cautioned about the surge in scam websites impersonating well-known retailers.
The National Anti-Scam Centre has observed a significant increase in reports of fraudulent online stores mimicking established high-profile brands, raising concerns for unsuspecting shoppers.
This year alone has seen 2,760 reports of fake online stores, resulting in losses exceeding half a million dollars.
Online shopping scams have collectively cost Australians over $6.2 million between January and September 2023.
With the anticipated spending spree during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales estimated at $6.36 billion, authorities are urging heightened vigilance.
ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe emphasized the opportunistic nature of scammers during the holiday shopping season, noting the alarming rise in reports of fake online shopping websites designed to resemble renowned Australian fashion and footwear labels.
A concerning trend is scammers investing in placing their fake websites at the top of search results, making it challenging for consumers to discern legitimacy.
Lowe advises consumers to familiarize themselves with the authentic site addresses of their preferred brands and to exercise caution when navigating search results.
The National Anti-Scam Centre is actively collaborating with retailers to disrupt scam activities, particularly focusing on the fashion and shoe retail sector, where scammers have concentrated their efforts. Retailers are encouraged to proactively warn customers about potential scams impersonating their brands.
As part of Scams Awareness Week, the National Anti-Scam Centre is highlighting the prevalence of impersonation scams, which accounted for over 70 percent of the 234,672 reports to Scamwatch in 2023.
These scams range from road toll scams and Australian Government impersonation scams to family impersonation scams like “Hi Mum.”
The losses from impersonation scams this year have reached $92 million.
Lowe stressed the importance of consumers verifying the authenticity of online platforms before making purchases.
Recommendations include searching for independent reviews, avoiding direct bank deposits, and using secure payment methods like PayPal or credit cards.
Additionally, consumers are advised to report suspicious ads to Google and access websites independently rather than through links in emails or social media.
As consumers gear up for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, the overarching message is clear: Stop, Think, and Protect against potential scams.
Authorities urge consumers to resist pressure, question the authenticity of deals, and act swiftly if something feels amiss, including reporting incidents to relevant authorities.
In the face of increasing online scam threats, staying vigilant and informed is crucial for a safe and secure shopping experience.
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