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9 scams to watch out for these holidays

30 November 2023 | 4 min read
Here are 9 scams to watch out for these holidays, and how to protect yourself

The holiday season should be a time to celebrate and spend time with loved ones. Unfortunately, many Aussies risk falling victim to holiday scams. With full calendars, school holidays and extra life admin taking our focus, the festive season presents prime conditions for scammers to strike. Plus, with the cost of living on the rise, scammers are benefiting from luring victims in with low priced products.

Here are 9 scams to watch out for this holiday season.

1. Income or investment scams

With the cost of living putting pressure on holiday budgets, opportunities to earn easy income are understandably attractive. But these offers may be concealed attempts to steal your money or involve you in illegal activity. Scammers may approach you via email, phone or social media and offer you a high paying job or invite you to invest in things like cryptocurrency, property or managed funds.

How to stay safe

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never agree to transfer or receive money on someone else’s behalf, and don’t buy into hyped up investment opportunities promising big returns. While it can be tempting to take someone up on an offer of easy money, you could risk losing money you put in, or even become involved in illegal activity.

2. Phishing scams

The holidays are a busy time, and scams catch us out when our guard is down - particularly phishing scams. These scams involve impersonation of a trusted organisation like your bank or the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Scammers will contact you via phone, text or email and try to get you to hand over personal information.

How to stay safe

Be vigilant with any form of communication that asks for your personal information. Don't click links or enter your login credentials in texts or emails you receive. Always contact these organisations directly via the contact information listed on their official website.

3. Facebook Marketplace scams

Using Facebook Marketplace to snap up preloved gifts, or to sell unwanted items is a great idea - you make some extra cash and free up space for the in-laws! But scams on resale sites are on the rise. Scammers target victims by asking to transact using PayID. They'll then send fraudulent text messages asking you to upgrade your PayID account or take steps to access your funds.

How to stay safe

Always be vigilant when buying and selling on resale sites and look out for anything unusual. Scammers may be keen to buy your items without even seeing them and claim they're sending a family member or courier to collect. If you're asked to use PayID, never click links in messages claiming to be in relation to the funds. PayID is a free service and you'll never be asked to pay to access or upgrade your account.

4. Fake online shopping site scams

Scammers will set up fake online storefronts selling desirable items at attractive prices, enticing Christmas shoppers to make payments to snap up the deal. Unfortunately, these stores usually sell fake products or simply sell nothing at all. Scammers are known to forge legitimacy by promoting their stores on social media, only to disappear a few weeks later and never deliver on sales or provide refunds.

How to stay safe

Do thorough research into companies you don’t recognise. Search their ABN via ABN Lookup, check for reviews online, and search scam alerts on the ACCC's ScamWatch if something doesn’t feel right.

5. Parcel delivery scams

As many of us turn to online shopping to avoid holiday crowds, parcel delivery scams are on the rise. Victims may receive a text message or an email noting that their parcel is missing or undelivered, with a link to rectify the issue. The link then prompts victims to enter personal data or payment information.

How to stay safe

Be vigilant of any text, email or phone communications, and where possible, avoid clicking on links. Contact the company directly, and don't hand over any personal information.

6. Refund scams

Australians are feeling the pinch these holidays more than ever, and receiving a text stating you're owed a refund might provide the festive financial relief you've been waiting for. Unfortunately, scammers are now sending text messages claiming to be from MyGov or Medicare notifying of refunds or overdue payments.

How to stay safe

Never click links in text messages or emails from the ATO, Medicare, Centrelink or any other government department. Login to your account securely and check for notifications in the relevant dashboard. Any communications will be linked to your official account. If in doubt, call the department directly on a number you trust.

7. Prize scams

You've got some time off over the holidays and you receive a text saying you've won a holiday - sounds too good to be true, right? Sadly, it probably is. Scammers target victims with texts, emails and calls about fake prizes like holidays, technology and cash, in an attempt to capture their personal and payment information.

How to stay safe

If you receive a text, email or call about a prize, don't click any links or hand over any personal information. As a rule of thumb, it's safest to assume prize alerts are scams. However, if you have recently entered a competition and you receive official communications from that provider, still approach it with caution. Look at the email address the message come from, who it's signed off from, and what they're asking you to provide in order to obtain the prize. If you're unsure, find out the company issuing the prize and contact them directly via a separate email or phone call.

8. Charity scams

The festive season is a time of giving. But unfortunately, scammers see this as an opportunity to target people's generosity. From texts, emails, websites and even door-knocking, scammers will find ways to pull at your heartstrings to convince you to donate, and then keep the money for themselves.

How to stay safe

Only make donations to charities you trust. Don’t make donations from links in emails or texts. Instead, visit the charity’s website and make a donation manually.

9. Flight and travel booking scams

Flight and accommodation prices tend to soar over the holidays, as people flock to visit family and friends. This rush creates a ripe environment for scammers to promote fake travel websites listing flights and accommodation at affordable prices. Sadly, these aren’t real bookings, and getting caught out can cost you thousands, plus leave you disappointed when you set off on your trip.

How to stay safe

Book directly with airlines or accommodation providers you trust or consider using a reputable travel agent. Research prices carefully - if something sounds too good to be true, it often is.

What to do if you think you've been scammed

If you have received a suspicious text message or email claiming to be from Bendigo Bank, please take a screenshot and email it to phishing@bendigoadelaide.com.au or forward it to 0429 557 997 and then delete the SMS text message or email.

For the latest scam alerts and information to keep yourself and your family safe online, visit bengidobank.com/security.

Things to remember

  • Bendigo Bank will never call you to ask you to move your money
  • Bendigo Bank will never request personal information such as a pin or password or ask you to login to online services from an email or SMS text message.
  • Never provide your 6-digit e-banking security code to anyone over the phone or online.
  • Bendigo Bank will never ask you to click on a link in an SMS text message to login to e-banking or request remote access to your PC or device.

For the latest scam alerts and information to keep yourself and your family safe online, visit our scam alerts page.

Any advice provided in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Please read the applicable product disclosure statement(s) on our website before acquiring any product.

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Bendigo and Adelaide Bank acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of this nation and the Traditional Custodians of the land where we live, learn and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present as it is their knowledge and experience that holds the key to the success of future generations.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, ABN 11 068 049 178 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 237879. Any advice provided on this website is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Please read the applicable Disclosure Documents before acquiring any product described on this website. Please also review our Financial Services Guide (FSG) before accessing information on this website. Information on this page can change without notice to you.

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