Black Friday and Cyber Monday are one of the biggest shopping periods of the year, and this weekend Kiwis are expected to spend large trying to grab a deal. In fact, last year we spent $253 million in this four day period, eclipsing Boxing Day.
But where there is online shopping, there will be scammers trying to steal a slice.
“Online shopping scams are common during sale season,” says Tracey Brown, Senior Manager Financial Crime at Westpac.
“Often these can appear as offers that are too good to be true, or as websites that are offering goods that don’t appear to line up with the web address.”
The most common scams
When it comes to online shopping scams, the most common one is when scammers impersonate retailers in order to gather your credit or debit card information.
“Scammers will set up fake retailer sites that look like a genuine store that sells high value goods at discounted prices. They may send you a lower value fake, or nothing at all and the danger is that they have your credit card details and banking credentials,” Tracey says.
Tracey recommends you do research before spending money online.
“Use a search engine and type the name of the product you’re about to buy and the seller, along with the word ‘scam’. If other people have been scammed, you’ll quickly find out.”
However, Tracey says it’s important to be careful when doing peer-to-peer purchases as well.
“Scammers also operate on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and attempt to gain payment for big ticket items before disappearing and removing their profile.”
Check out the seller’s profile and sales history before making a purchase, and if there is not much listed, exercise caution. Also search for reviews and feedback. Be careful when sellers insist on up-front payment on social media platforms that are not moderated. Once you have paid, they can disappear.
- The offer is too good to be true.
- If on Marketplace, the seller is not verified or has little sales history.
- You receive an unsolicited request to update your payment information.
- Bad grammar/spelling in emails or websites, or email addresses that are slightly off.
- Pressure to act immediately.
- Promises of refunds, coupons, or other freebies.
- Method of payment - they ask for a pre-loaded money card, wire transfer or electronic currency.
- The store does not allow payment through a secure payment service such as Credit Card or PayPal.
- There is no closed padlock symbol at the beginning of the URL.
What to do if you get scammed
Contact your bank immediately, and also the Police. You can also report the scam to Netsafe.org.nz so they can help ensure no other Kiwis fall victim to the same scam.