Woolworths issues confronting warning over survey email scam

Woolworths shoppers are being warned about a dangerous “phishing” email scam aimed at stealing personal information.

A confused Woolworths customer took to Facebook to inform the supermarket giant that she received an email from them asking her to take a survey and pay $3 for the chance to win a prize.

“Woolworths, is there an email going around asking your customers to complete a survey to win a prize like [a] $500 gift card, iPhone 12, Samsung s21, and a MacBook," the skeptical shopper wrote in her post to the Woolworths Facebook page.

"But you have to pay $3 for them. Is this a scam? Are you aware of it?”

Woolworths phishing email aimed at stealing customer information. Source: Woolworths Group
Woolworths has shared examples of the phishing emails on its website. Source: Woolworths Group

Woolworths quickly responded to the post, warning the customer that the email was in fact a “phishing scam” and confirmed that it was not sent by the supermarket.

Phishing scams are a way that cybercriminals steal confidential information, such as online banking logins, credit card details, passwords and login credentials by sending deceptive emails, or “lures”.

These emails often look legitimate, which is why even the most savvy people can sometimes fall prey.

“It's actually a scammer who's attempting to trick people into giving out their personal and banking information,” wrote a Woolworths representative in their response.

Woolworths went on to say that they would “never ask our customers for their personal or banking details in unsolicited communications”.

The woman wasn’t the only customer aware of the scam, with a customer commenting: “Just another scam. Report it to Scamwatch.”

Woolworths gift card phishing email aimed to trick shoppers.
Woolworths have confirmed these kinds of emails are not from them and are trying to 'trick' customers into giving personal information. Source: Woolworths Group

Woolworths urge customers to ‘be aware’

Woolies are no strangers to online scams such as this one, and warn customers via their Scam Alert page that they should be suspicious of any emails that create a sense of urgency, contain unrelated links and attachments, request sensitive information or are from people that don’t usually contact you.

“At Woolworths, we like our customers to be equipped with information and to be aware of what to look for and the difference between genuine communication we may send you vs a scam,” reads the Woolworths Scam Alerts page.

“Scams are most often designed to look authentic, copying features from our branding such as our logo and the way we communicate,” it continues.

Woolworths alerts shoppers that with the rise of the internet and social media, scams are becoming more prevalent which has led to millions of dollars being lost in scams each year.

Aussies lose record $851 million to scams during Covid-19

According to a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australians lost more than $850 million to scams in 2020 – as scammers capitalised on the Covid-19 pandemic to target vulnerable people.

Targeting Scams reports shows top scams by loss in graph.
The Targeting Scams report found Aussies lost $851 million to scams during Covid-19. Source: ACCC

The Targeting Scams report, which compiled data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, other government agencies and 10 banks and financial intermediaries, was based on more than 440,000 reports of scams.

“Last year, scam victims reported the biggest losses we have seen, but worse, we expect the real losses will be even higher, as many people don’t report these scams,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

“Unfortunately, scammers continue to become more sophisticated and last year used the Covid-19 pandemic to scam and take advantage of people from all walks of life during this crisis,” he said.

Investment scams accounted for the biggest losses of $328 million, followed by romance scams, which cost Aussie romantics $131 million. Other categories include payment redirection, health and medical and shopping scams.

Unsurprisingly, phishing also thrived during the pandemic, with over 44,000 reported cases of phishing scams, representing over a 75 per cent increase.

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