As we all look forward to the festive season, it’s important to remember that during this period, we must remain vigilant to scams, particularly if you shop online. This is a time where people want to spread the Christmas cheer to their loved ones but unfortunately, scammers like to take advantage of people’s good nature.

With the holiday season around the corner, we want to ensure that you’re aware of the scams out there and be best prepared. We also wanted to use this opportunity to shed some light and provide focus on the impacts of scams on vulnerable populations and share tips to help avoiding losing money to scams.

Christmas Fraud & Scams Awareness Shopping List

If you’re someone that enjoys the convenience of being able to shop for what you want online, especially during what could be a time consuming and chaotic shopping centre experience, you should be aware and vigilant of the threats of online shopping scams.  You also need to be wary of social media advertising that could provide you with a false product or service being promoted.

You’d be surprised by how many people can fall into the trap of purchasing from a legitimate looking site, so it’s important to stay vigilant and perform your own due diligence or online audit, especially for large purchases before you commit to buying.  Don’t forget to also consider all genuine reviews and feedback provided. More tips are provided in the next section.

Below are products that are popular amongst online shopping and classified scams, according to Scamwatch1:

  • Pets
  • Shoes / Clothing
  • Vehicles
  • Electronic Goods Laptop/Phones/Drones/iPads/Gaming Consoles
  • Toys
  • Barbeques
  • Luxury Goods Handbags and watches

We also recommend being careful on sites such as online marketplaces, as these can be a hotspot for scammers listing items that don’t exist.

Tips to help avoid online shopping scams

Below are some helpful tips you should consider when online shopping to help keep safe during the festive season:

  • Shop at trusted and verified websites: when shopping online, it’s important that you do your research before you buy anything from a company. Read reviews by customers about their experience and read comments on social media on what people are saying about them.
  • Ensure that the payment is secure: when making a payment online, ensure that the website URL has a closed padlock icon in the address window or begins with ‘https’. Re-think storing your credit card details for the website as your information could be in the hands of cybercriminals if they breach the company’s data. Avoid transferring money to another bank account to pay for products. Always use secure payment channels where appropriate. 
  • Look out for phishing emails or SMS: during the festive season, it’s important to be wary of receiving phishing emails or SMS, such as fake parcel delivery notifications or promotional offers that seem too good to be true or that you do not initiate or expect.
  • Limit your use of public Wi-Fi: using public Wi-Fi can put you at risk since cybercriminals could potentially lurk on public networks or set up hotspots. Avoid shopping online or signing into online banking when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Strengthen the security of your bank accounts: avoid using the same passwords across your accounts and where possible, use multi-factor authentication to add another layer of protection. Use strong and unique passwords to avoid getting scammed.

Impact of Scams on Vulnerable Populations

Vulnerable populations have a higher risk to scams 

During the holiday season, individuals may feel isolated and alone, which could make them more prone to being victims of scams. Unfortunately, First Nations, people with disability and those part of the culturally diverse communities (CALD) are more vulnerable to getting scammed.

It was reported in July this year that scam reports from the vulnerable populations, such as culturally diverse communities (CALD), people with disability and First Nations people almost doubled in 20212.

According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), they reported that scammers stole over $66 million last year from First Nations people2.

It’s been mentioned that scammers specifically target those part of the CALD and First Nations communities2.

Interestingly, younger First Nations members lost more money than older members in their community2. The most financially damaging types of social engineering scams were:

  • Investment scams
  • Phishing scams
  • Romance scams

People from CALD communities reported $42 million losses in 2021, which is an 88% increase compared to 20202. The main financial losses that came from this community was through investment scams, usually in the form of ponzi scams and pyramid scheme apps, followed by romance scams and scams that threatened life, arrest, or other2.

Those who identified as having a disability made 15,387 reports to Scamwatch in 2021, losing more than $19.6 million to scams2.

Tips on how vulnerable populations can avoid getting scammed

If you identify as a vulnerable person, it’s important to get yourself educated on the latest scams and find ways to best protect your sensitive information, including your banking details.

  • Consider getting a Power of Attorney: a Power of Attorney is someone that you can give authority to manage your legal and financial matters on your behalf. You might consider nominating someone to be an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) so they can continue their obligations if you lose capacity. Before doing so, it's always a good idea to discuss any such changes to your arrangements with a trusted legal advisor.
  • Subscribe to scam alerts and news: Scamwatch is a government website that specifically keeps up to date with the latest scams and emerging trends. We encourage you to follow their social media pages or subscribe to their email alerts.
  • Read online resources to help you get familiar with scams: we have a Fraud & Security resource hub that includes a range of resources and guides to help you be aware of the latest scams and detailed tips on how you can protect yourself. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also has the Little Black Book of Scams available in 10 languages, which can helpful resource on scams if you’re a member of the CALD community.
  • Speak to your local banks and experts: we’re available to assist you if you’ve experienced a fraud or scam incident, or suspect you’ve been involved in one. Call our team on 1300 747 747 if you need further assistance. We understand how stressful it may be to experience such an event, so we’re available to help.

Optus and Medibank Cyber Security Breach incidents

In late September, Optus had a cyber security breach, which impacted over 10 million customers having their personal information compromised online.

Medibank were also involved in a cyber security breach in October, which not only impacted their customer database but ahm and international student databases. Customers involved in the breach had their personal and health data compromised by the cybercriminal.

We understand that this has affected some of our customers, and that there was a high level of concern following the incident as well.

At Qudos Bank, the protection of your personal information and your accounts is important to us and has and will always be a priority.

If you were impacted by the breach, we recommend that you consider the following:

  1. Securing your devices and using all the security features on your phones and devices that add additional layers of security for your banking such as bio metric identification (e.g. face recognition). 
  2. Changing your online account passwords regularly, email and social media.
  3. Reviewing your accounts for unusual activity, such as items you haven’t purchased or transactions you have not initiated.
  4. Reducing your transaction limits on your accounts.
  5. Be alert to any emails, text messages or phone calls from people requesting personal or account information, including access to devices and bank accounts.

We encourage you to visit our Fraud & Security hub for more helpful information and tips to help protect your information.

If you identify any suspicious activity on your accounts, please contact us immediately on 1300 747 747.

Qudos Mutual Limited trading as Qudos Bank ABN 53 087 650 557 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238 305. The information in this article is of a general nature and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.



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