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Online shopping caution as scammers more active during Christmas

Cybersecurity and scammer experts are recommending people exercise caution when buying presents and gifts online as scammers tend to be more active during the Christmas period.

Older Australian's can be really prone to online scams, as they may not understand how all the technology works and they tend to be more trusting of others. [Source: iStock]

With COVID-19 encouraging more and more people to buy their gifts from the internet, they are also more likely to come across scam deals, fake listings or too good to be true present bargains.

Professor Matthew Warren, Director of the RMIT University Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation and a Professor of Cyber Security at RMIT University, says that people need to be particularly careful when searching for presents for their loved ones.

"We have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic people are using technologies to order more items online. However, these new technologies have meant new ways for scammers to spread their dishonesty," explains Professor Warren.

"The enhanced sophistication of scammers has meant it is becoming increasingly harder to tell the difference between legitimate and fraudulent emails, instant messages, SMSs or phone calls. 

"Christmas is a special time for scammers as they prey on people’s generosity and the fact that people are hunting for bargains. If someone comes across a deal [that seems] too good, it could very well be a scam and you could end up with nothing.

Professor Warren explains that older Australian's can be really prone to online scams, as they may not understand how all the technology works and they tend to be more trusting of others.

While scammers target everyone, no matter their demographic or ethnic background, scammers try to contact as many individual people as possible so they can find the two percent of people that will respond.

He says that scams usually relate to presents or delivery of parcels, like pretending to be from Australia Post or another delivery company, like FedEx.

Professor Warren recommends to look out for these scam indicators:

  • Communications, like email or SMS, use generic greetings, such as 'Dear Customer' or use your email address when referring to you

  • Be suspicious of communications that use a sense of urgency, for example, "Purchase this item now as this special price is for today only"

  • Be wary of communications that instruct you to click a link to perform an action, like a link to purchase a specially priced item

  • Double-check the email sending address to see if it matches the real company's domain address. Some phishing and scam emails may look very similar to a companies address, might only have a brief mention of the company in the email followed by lots of numbers and letters, or could be a very random generated email

Read our informative guide about being wary of scams and sharing your personal information on

If you want to learn more about scams or want to report a scam, head to the Government ScamWatch website.


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