With the busiest weekend of the year for online retailers around the corner - Black Friday - Australians are being warned to head into the silly season this year 'with caution'.

A report published by Reviews.org found New South Wales residents had been hit the hardest by online shopping scams, recording a loss of $1.55 million to date through 2021.

Victoria closely trailed behind at $1.51 million, while Queenslanders reported a loss of more than $888,000 to date.

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 Source: Reviews.org

The rise in online shopping scams has been fuelled by the rapid growth of online shopping with brick-and-mortar retailers closed throughout the pandemic due to lockdowns. 

Online shopping scams are generally associated with the less technologically-savvy older generation, yet Reviews.org noted the age group that lost the most to online shopping scams were Millennials aged 25-34 years.

Reviews.org found August 2021 had the highest number of online shopping scam reports to date, with 2,318 reports resulting in an estimated loss of $975,000.

Futher, Reviews.org noted the largest amount of money lost by Australians was through scams via email, reporting more than $2 million lost so far this year.

Phone and text messages had the highest number of reports to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with 7,526 reports so far this year amounting to a loss of more than $500,000.

In a survey of 1,000 participants, Reviews.org found: 42% of Australians say they have been scammed while online shopping; 81% say they worry about being scammed while online shopping; and 67% say they find themselves shopping online more since the start of the pandemic.

ACCC Scam Safety Tips

The ACCC has published a number of tips to help consumers avoid online shopping scams this holiday spending season.

  • If it’s too good to be true, it is: often products like phones and laptops are advertised online at prices well, well below the RRP. Do your research and find out what a reasonable price is for the item, and be wary with cheap offers.
  • Be cautious with classified sites: people often post fake ads on marketplace sites like Gumtree or Facebook. Check the seller’s profile on the classified site if you can, and avoid direct bank transfers, or using cryptocurrency to pay.
  • Don’t click on it: if you have bought something online, often you’ll receive scam emails and texts telling you about your delivery. If you receive an email or text from an unknown sender asking you to click on a link, don’t. 

Image by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay.