The online scams targeting Christmas shoppers - and how to avoid them

Helen Wellings

Christmas is meant to be a time for giving, but it can also be a time for scamming.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning that it's peak season for online criminals executing frauds which cost Australians over a billion dollars each year.

And they warn that at Christmas, we can often be so focused on everything we need to do that we're more likely to become a victim.

The ACCC runs a Scam Watch and is warning about three common scams at Christmas. Source: 7 News

The ACCC is warning about three big cons this Christmas.

The first: online shopping scams, using fake websites.

"They're now able to replicate whole department stores and known brands," the ACCC's Delia Rickard said.

You could be sending your money to a fake website. Source: 7 News

Then there are delivery scams: emails and text messages saying there's a package awaiting collection.

"If you click on the link, ransom ware is downloaded onto your computer,"Ms Rickard said.

Even though an email or message might look legitimate, it's advisable to double-check it.

Look out for text messages about missed parcel deliveries. Source: 7 News

Never click on the link, and don't rely on the contact details they provide.

The third major scam is the Christmas holiday rort promising giveaways and really good travel deals.

Mary Anne Brewer and her husband lost $6000 in a holiday scam.

"The day before our trip, that's when everything was cancelled," Mary Anne Brewer said.

Cheap holiday deals are often too good to be true. Source: 7 News

The ACCC also recommends we look out for fraudsters tugging at our heartstrings over the holiday season.

Last Christmas, Christina Mammino and her son gave generously after seeing a post about a fake foster child in need.

"You feel you've been taken advantage of. You feel hurt. You feel angry. You feel sad," she said.

Online scams can leave us feeling taken advantage of. Source: 7 News

Even though an email or message might look legitimate, it's advisable to double-check it.

Never click on the link, and don't rely on the contact details provided.