The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed Aussies have already lost more money to online shopping scams in 2019 than in the entire previous year.

So far in 2019, reported losses from online shopping scams are over $4 million, well in excess of the 2018 figure of $3.28 million.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard has warned people to be cautious when buying presents online, in the lead up to the holiday season.

“Scammers often try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping including in the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales,” Ms Rickard said.

“Reported losses have tripled over the last three years and it is concerning losses from this year are already so high.”

The ACCC has warned shoppers to look out for these common online shopping scams:

  • Fake websites/stores: scammers will set up fake online stores, on websites or social media, which can look like genuine online retailers. Many of these offer luxury items at very low prices but you may receive a fake item or nothing at all. 
  • Fake sellers: scammers may pose as genuine sellers on classifieds websites. The scammer may claim they are travelling and an agent will deliver the goods once you have paid, but you won’t receive the goods and will be unable to contact the seller.

“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,” Ms Rickard said.

“Warning signs for online shopping scams include extremely low advertised prices and requests to pay through direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency.”

“We encourage everyone to do their research before making an online purchase and if purchasing expensive goods, not to make payment until they have inspected the product.”

Ms Rickard said that spreading awareness, as well as festive cheer, can help protect vulnerable customers.

“Many people enjoy the convenience of online shopping but it is important to remember that there can be risks involved,” she said.

“If you do think you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible.

Black Friday shoppers spending more

New research has found 66% of Aussies who have shopped Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are increasing their spend each year.

The survey of over 1,000 Australians from CouriersPlease (CP) found although only a third shopped the sales on the two days, three in four recognised the value of the discounts being offered.

Of the respondents, 75% said the sales are getting better, of which:

  • 33% said the discounts are generally bigger each year,
  • 21% said they find better items on sale,
  • 21% said more items are on sale during these events each year.

This year, Black Friday falls on 29 November and Cyber Monday on 2 December.

Who’s shopping the most?

According to the survey, older shoppers are less likely to purchase items during these events.

More than half (58%) of under 30s had purchased items during these events, compared to:

  • 32% of those in their 40s,
  • 25% of those in their 50s,
  • Only 10% of over 60s.

These younger groups were also bigger spenders, with 72% of 18-29 year olds who had shopped the events spending more in the last two years.

When comparing shoppers across the states, CP found that more WA residents (44%) had shopped during Black Friday and Cyber Monday than any other State, while ACT saw the least amount of shoppers during these events at 25%.

“Have you ever purchased items online during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales?”

Yes 33% 33% 32% 29% 39% 44% 25% 18% 17%
No 67% 67% 68% 71% 61% 56% 75% 82% 83%

Source: CouriersPlease

Among those who had shopped during these events, ACT and QLD residents increased their shopping the most in the last two years (75% and 72%, respectively), compared with 65% of NSW residents.

CP spokesperson Jessica Ip said the discounts on offer, doubled with the Christmas period, would cause a spike in sales.

“We expect that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will attract an even higher volume of sales this year, as the events take place a week later than in 2018,” Mrs Ip said.

“This will result in the events coinciding with the Christmas shopping period.

“We anticipate that astute shoppers will wait until these global events to save on their Christmas shopping.”

“Has your shopping during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events increased in the last 2 years?”

Yes 66% 65% 67% 72% 68% 65% 75% 40% 50%
No 34% 35% 33% 28% 32% 35% 25% 60% 50%

Source: CouriersPlease