Thousands of scammers impersonating popular Aussie retail brands this Black Friday

The Australian consumer watchdog is warning shoppers to be wary of websites impersonating well-known Aussie retail brands this coming Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales weekend.

The ACCC reports that the National Anti-Scam Centre has received 2,760 reports of fake online stores this year, with scam losses of over $500,000. That’s just one specific brand of scam; overall online shopping scams have cost Australians more than $6.2 million this year.

With Aussie shoppers tipped to spend around $6.36 billion this weekend, the ACCC says it’s crucial that shoppers are aware of the risks.

“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.”

“A recent, disturbing development is that scammers are paying for their fake websites to appear at the top of your internet search. This means you can’t necessarily trust the first listing you see.

“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.”

The National Anti-Scam Centre has 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,” Lowe explains.

“We commend those retailers who have taken proactive steps to warn their customers about scam websites impersonating their brands.”

As for tips for online shoppers, Lowe recommends searching for independent reviews to check if a store is real, never paying by direct bank deposit, money transfers, or digital currencies such as Bitcoin. “You should pay by PayPal or credit card,” Lowe warns.

“You may want to keep a second credit card with a low credit limit just for online shopping.”


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