26 April 2016

Will you be next victim of online scams?

Author :

Do you like to shop online?

Well, unfortunately I have some frightening news for you.

In 2015, there have been 2735 number of reports of online shopping scams with a combined total of $1.46 million loss in Australia, half of the victims being female.

16% of the victims fall within the age range of 25 – 34 years old. 50.6% of these people have placed their orders over the internet, followed by email at 22.9%.

While many of these online shops are legitimate, however scammers take advantage of those unsuspecting shoppers by using the anonymous nature of the internet.

There are three different ways scammers operate:

Setting up fake websites

Scammers will use the latest technology to create websites that look like genuine stores such as making sophisticated website designs, logos, a “.com.au” domain and possibly a stolen (Australian Business Number) ABN number. The fallout with this is that scammers will often ask for money order, wire transfer or loaded money card.

Online auction websites

Most online auction websites, such a eBay have strict policies to protect their customers from scammers. Scammers will try to get these people to make a deal outside of the website or notify these people that the winner of the auction has pulled out and try to offer the item to the person.

Online classified websites

Online websites promotes the sale of goods and services but allows the buyers and sellers to negotiate outside of the website (eg. Gumtree). These scammers post photos of items and create fake ads and have their items selling at a much lower price compared to other similar items.

Some scammers may pose as buyers and send you a cheque for more than what the item was sold for, then ask for sellers to refund the difference. These are known as overpayment scams.

So how can one tell the difference between a legitimate offer and a scam?

Trust your gut feeling - If the price of the item is too good to be true, then it probably is.

Online auction websites such as eBay has a rating system of the buyer or seller. If the person you are looking at exchanging business with has a poor rating, it is best to steer clear away from doing any business with them

The buyer may request immediate payment of the item or by electronic bank transfer or wire service.

The seller does not provide enough information about privacy and terms and conditions of use. They may also be based overseas and would not allow for safe transfer systems such as Paypal to accept payment or credit card transactions.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who have been scammed, you can try to contact your local consumer protection agency such as your bank or credit union. Please also report scammers to the Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission so they can warn people about these scammers and prevent more people from falling victims. They also keep a record of current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams if possible. 

Don’t forget to spread the word to your family and friends to protect them! 

Being brought up in a typical Chinese family in Australia, Vivian takes pride as an ABC (Australia-born Chinese) where she happily embraces both the Chinese and Australian cultures. 

In high school, Vivian wanted to become a fashion designer, however she has developed a passion for running events after working backstage for multiple live shows. Prior to starting at Akolade, Vivian worked 4 years in the wine industry and she misses the wine tasting sessions and openly drinking on the job. As the Marketing Coordinator, Vivian enjoys using her creativity to design unique and fun campaigns for each event. In her spare time, Vivian loves to spend time with her two adorable pets; a cat and a dog.  

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