Be wary of ecommerce scams this season


As consumers look to avoid the crowds in shopping centres, the number of shoppers heading online for Christmas continues to grow.

According to the Adobe Digital Index, Australians are expected to spend six per cent more online this Christmas. However, more online spending means more opportunities to be caught out by scams.

WatchGuard Technologies has set out five common threats to avoid:

Seasonal phishing scams

Attackers know you’re looking out for emails with special Christmas deals or details on parcels you may have in transit, which means it’s a great time to try to lure you to malicious sites or malware with seasonal phishing scams. Common malicious emails may include fake FedEx or DHL messages claiming failed deliveries or fake flight notices. Avoid clicking links and attachments in unsolicited emails.

Fake product giveaways

Each year sees a popular ‘must-have’ product or two that’s on nearly everybody’s shopping list. This Christmas, it’s the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Scammers try to steal personal information from victims by tricking them into filling out details to win one of these items. Of course, some giveaways may be real, but it’s important to be careful about where you choose to share your information, and what information you’re willing to give up.

Digital downloads 

The malicious free screensaver, ringtone, or e-card offer is an old trick, but it’s still giving many a computer a virus. Only download files from trusted sources.

Fraudulent e-commerce sites

Scammers are good at faking websites, whether it’s your banking site, favourite social network, or online shops that have deals that are almost too good to be true. Pay close attention to the domain names you visit, and vet your online retailers before ordering any products. Look out for the padlock icon in your browser’s URL bar.

Booby-trapped ads and SEO

As consumers learn about viruses and scams, the bad guys keep innovating. Two popular new techniques are malicious online ads and SEO tricks. They are buying online ad space or hacking online ad systems to inject fake ads into legitimate websites, which redirect back to malicious sites, and leveraging SEO tricks to get their sites at the top of your search. Before clicking ad links or following search results, be aware of what URL you’re clicking on.