Fake online shopping scams
Fake online shopping sites prey on people searching for a bargain.
Tip: If you have doubts about any caller or any online shopping website, hang up and call them back or look them up via an independent source – find their number using the phone book or a search engine to find the official company website.
Fake online shopping sites can be very convincing, copying designs and logos from legitimate websites in order to steal your money.
If you're not sure, talk through the suspicious message with a friend, family member or colleague.
Talking through your concerns out loud with someone else can reassure you and help to identify messages that may be fake before you click a malicious link or give away any personal information.
If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or helpless – there are steps you can take to limit the damage and protect yourself from further harm.
- Contact your bank or financial institution. If you’ve sent money or your personal banking details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to help by stopping a money transfer or cheque, investigating a fraudulent credit card transaction, or closing your account if the scammer has your details.
- Recover your identity. If you think you have been the victim of identity theft, act quickly to avoid further damage. Contact IDCare, a free government-funded service who can help.
- Report the scam to the authorities. If you have been a victim of a crime (such as fraud) report it to your local police. We also encourage you to report the scam to the ACCC’s Scamwatch and ACSC's ReportCyber.
For additional information on the different kinds of help available, visit Scamwatch.
How these scams work
Scammers pretend to be legitimate businesses online, either using fake websites or malicious advertisements on legitimate sites in order to scam unsuspecting shoppers. Advertisements for these fake businesses may also appear in your social media feed.
These sites may copy the designs and logos from legitimate businesses in order to appear more genuine. These scammers may simply keep your money after you make a purchase, continue to make further fraudulent charges on your credit card, or may send you substandard goods.
What to look out for
- Unbelievably low prices or other unbelievable benefits. It’s common advice but it bears repeating – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use caution.
- The link from the advertisement appears genuine, but when clicked on goes to a different URL.
- The seller insists on payment using electronic funds transfer, a wire service or another method rather than a credit card or PayPal.
- The website does not provide contact details or enough information about their privacy and returns policies, or their terms and conditions of use.
Learn more about safely selling and shopping online.
Protect yourself from fake online shopping sites
There are a number of different precautions you can take to protect yourself from fake online shopping scams.
- Understand that scams exist and use caution online. Be particularly wary of any uninvited contact – whether it’s via email, social media or other means.
- Use strong passwords, take steps to protect your computer and use safe behaviour when using the web.
- Avoid malicious messages – don’t share your email address online unless you need to, use a spam filter to catch bogus messages before they get to your inbox and delete spam that does get through without opening it.
- Don’t open messages or click on links if you don’t know the sender or if you’re not expecting them.
- Don’t accept friend or contact requests on social media from people you don’t know. Criminals may use information they gather about you from social media in order to make their messages more appealing or appear more authentic.
Use the following resources to learn more about scams and how to protect yourself: