As 2022 comes to an end, Australians are being warned to stay alert over the festive season with cyber-criminals and scammers ever-ready to pounce on the vulnerable.

It’s a time where many of us are wrapping up for the year and in turn may lead us to dropping our guard. We have highlighted what to look out for at this time of year and what actions you can take to help protect yourself.

Online Shopping

Online shopping is a popular and convenient way to get that Christmas shopping done.

Remember to research the seller and check independent reviews. Try and stick to well-known, trusted brands and businesses.

It’s easy to be tempted by cheap online prices, but just remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If a product is priced abnormally low on one site, consider why. Sometimes it pays to take an extra few minutes to find out if they are reputable.

Shoppers should always use secure payment methods like credit cards or PayPal when buying online. Scammers will often ask victims to pay with a preloaded money card, money order, or wire transfer to avoid detection and make it harder for the victim to recover their stolen money.

Package Delivery Scams

If you are expecting a delivery, never click links sent via SMS or email which can often download software onto the device allowing the scammer to steal money or information. Always contact the business directly to check tracking or find out about your order.

'Hi Mum' Scam

The festive season is a time where many of us are communicating with our loved ones via various messaging apps. This can leave us susceptible to the ‘Hi Mum’ scam where scammers will act as a son or daughter, and send messages most commonly to parents, saying they require an urgent transfer of funds among other scenarios. Read more: 'Hi Mum' Scam

Additional security tips

  • Use a complex 'passphrase' (rather than a password), with a combination of numbers, symbols, upper and lower case characters.
  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever available.
  • Avoid saving any of your passwords in a document, email, note or anywhere on your device that can be hacked.
  • Never give out your passwords to anyone.
  • Don’t use anything personal to you that can be easily guessed such as family names, nicknames, pet names, date of birth or sports teams. Some of this information, can be obtained simply by looking at your social media or online work profiles.
  • Use a unique password for each of your online accounts.
  • Change your passwords frequently

For most of us, the festive season means winding down, but for scammers its business as usual. Stay vigilant these holidays and if you notice any suspicious activity on your accounts, immediately get in contact with us on 13 61 91 and report to Scamwatch

Sources: Experts warn of online shopping scams ahead of Christmas
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16 December 2022