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Warning over scam costing Aussies thousands this Christmas

With just 17 days to go until Christmas, busy shoppers have been sent a stern warning to watch out for scammers this festive season.

The Australian Federal Police have issued an alert for those picking out gifts online to be wary of delivery scams that could cost unwary victims thousands of dollars.

Just like the big man in red, December is the busiest time of year for cyber criminals, according to AFP Commander Cybercrime Operations Chris Goldsmid, who says hackers prey on stressed out customers who are less attentive to details.

A text message scam asking the recipient to click on a URL to arrange delivery of a package.
The Australian Federal Police are urging Aussies to watch out for scam messages that direct recipients to click a URL. Source: Australian Federal Police

Be wary of messages demanding details

One of the top tricks is called ‘spoofing’ in which scammers make their messages look legitimate by using real company logos and fake sender details.

“Cyber criminals often impersonate trusted brands, such as legitimate parcel delivery services, to send messages designed to trick consumers into clicking on URLs containing harmful malware or providing personal information,” Commander Goldsmid said.

The messages will often ask recipients to click a link to track their package, confirm their delivery address, redirect their item or arrange a pick up. Then once someone clicks on that link, it may take them to a fake company website where they’ll be asked to put in their personal or financial details.

On top of handing over sensitive information to hackers, clicking the link might also lead to harmful malware being installed on the device.

A person using a laptop.
Scammers are known to target stressed shoppers at Christmas who are less attentive to details. Source: Geetty

Trust your gut instinct if something doesn’t feel right

By taking just a few minutes to check the legitimacy of a message, Commander Goldsmid said shoppers could save themselves thousands of dollars.

“If something doesn’t feel right, take the time to verify the request with the organisation using contact information listed on their website,” he said.

Red flags to look out for include requests for personal or financial details to confirm an order, an unexplained sense of urgency in the request, grammatical errors and suspicious URLs.

“Most delivery services will never text or email their customers to request personal or financial information,” he said.

Anyone who receives one of these types of messages is urged not to click on the link and to report it to Scamwatch, block the sender and delete the message immediately.

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