CONSUMERS are being warned to watch out for scam websites when shopping online this Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale weekend from 24-27 November.
The National Anti-Scam Centre has detected a concerning increase in the number of reports of fake websites that look like genuine online retail stores belonging to many big-name, high-street brands.
So far this year, there have been 2,760 reports of fake online stores, resulting in losses of more than half a million dollars.
Online shopping scams cost Australians over $6.2 million between 1 January and 30 September this year.
This warning comes ahead of the Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales weekend, during which shoppers are tipped to spend a reported $6.36 billion.
“Scammers are opportunistic criminals who will try to take advantage of people doing their Christmas shopping online during the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday period,” ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said.
“We have seen an alarming increase in reports of fake online shopping website scams, which use the latest technology to look like genuine, well-known Australian fashion and footwear labels.”
“Ms Lowe said a recent and disturbing development is that scammers are paying for their fake websites to appear at the top of internet searches.
“This means you can’t necessarily trust the first listing you see,” she said.
“As an alternative, consumers may wish to familiarise themselves with the site addresses of their favourite brands and navigate there directly or scroll down the search results to ensure they find the real site.
“Consumers should also be aware that scammers are using social media platforms to set up bogus stores and to advertise their fake websites.”
The National Anti-Scam Centre has been working with retailers to disrupt scam activity and has also published advice for businesses impacted by scammers impersonating them.
“As scammers have been primarily targeting fashion and shoe retail brands, we have focused our disruption efforts on this space, helping retailers remove a number of fake websites,” Ms Lowe said.
“We commend those retailers who have taken proactive steps to warn their customers about scam websites impersonating their brands.”
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