Telstra urges Aussies to check if the shopping deal is real

Media Release, 17 June 2013

During National Consumer Fraud Week 2013, Telstra is reminding shoppers to check if online or telephone shopping offers are genuine, as reports of shopping scams continue to increase in Australia.

Figures released today by the ACCC show reports of online shopping scams increased by 65 per cent over the past year, while 56 per cent of scams reported to the ACCC were delivered by phone calls and SMS - resulting in nearly $25 million worth of loss to consumers from telephone scams alone[1].

Telstra’s Officer of Internet Trust and Safety, Darren Kane said while the global online marketplace was thriving with consumers making the most of the speed, choice and convenience of online shopping, it was also an easy marketplace for scammers looking for victims.

“Online is a great way to shop and increasingly popular with Aussies looking for good deals. But just as in the offline world shoppers should be wary of those deals that seem too good to be true – both when buying and selling,” Mr Kane said.

“The prevalence of mobile phones is also making shopping on the go increasingly attractive, either by voice calls, SMS or online. These figures show that especially when using smartphones or other mobile devices, people need to take the time to double check if the deal is real!

“Telstra is encouraging Aussies to put their safety first and avoid attempts by scammers to defraud them of money or to trick them into disclosing personal information.”

Tips to avoid shopping scam:

  1. Think twice – if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Find out what other shoppers say – make sure the person that you are dealing with, and their offer, is the real deal.
  3. Protect your identity – your personal details are private and invaluable; keep them that way and away from scammers.
  4. Keep your computer secure – install software that protects your computer from viruses and unwanted programs and make sure it is kept up-to-date.
  5. Only pay via secure payment methods – look for a web address starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol. Never use a wire transfer service to send money to anyone you do not know and trust, and do not share your financial details with anyone.

Common online shopping scams the ACCC has identified on its website include:

  • Classifieds ads – Appearing on legitimate classifieds websites for cheaply priced popular items, and requiring payment prior to receipt of the goods. Once the payment is made the seller does not provide the goods, and cannot be contacted.
  • Overpayment scams – A scammer replies to a seller with an overly generous offer, then requests the seller transfer the extra money into an overseas bank account. Once the amount is transferred the seller discovers the original payment bounces, or was phony. They’re left out of pocket and without the sales item if they’ve already despatched it to the ‘buyer’.

Common telephone scams the ACCC has identified on its website include:

  • SMS Trivia scams – A text message from an unknown number encourages the recipient to enter into a trivia competition. The recipient is charged to reply and then for each subsequent text, resulting in high phone bills.
  • Missed call scams – Similar to SMS trivia scams, the receiver returns a missed call, only to be charged at a premium rate for the call and can then be lured into ongoing communications by the promise of prizes, cash or bargain priced goods.

Report SMS scams to the ACCC by visiting the SCAMwatch website.

Telstra is a principal partner of National Consumer Fraud Week (17-23 June 2013), an initiative of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce.

More information: Telstra’s Internet and Cyber-Safety site contains information to help Australians of all ages have a positive online experience.

[1] According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s 2012 Targeting Scams activity report, released 17 June 2013, unsolicited telephone scams represented just over 42 per cent (35 419) of contacts reported to the ACCC, accounting for$24 213 979 in reported losses. Scams delivered via SMS represented over 14 per cent (11 797) of total contacts and $759 986 in reported losses.