If you think the online marketplace you’re doing your Christmas shopping on looks particularly dodgy – it probably is.

And no. You haven’t just won a free cruise and you should not claim your prize by paying here.

You’re just another one of the thousands of Australians to be targeted this holiday season scam.

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) Deputy Chair Delia Rickard has warned Australians to be extra vigilant this Christmas.

“Scammers will take advantage of special days or major events like Christmas to fleece people of their money or personal information,” she said.

“Scamwatch [part of the ACCC] has also seen a massive influx of reports and money lost to tax scams. In November we received 7,500 reports of these scams and $400,000 was reported lost.”

The most common scams this time of year include:

  • Online shopping scams that dupe people into buying items that don’t exist. Such scams have cost Australians almost $3 million in 2018 across 8,700 incidents
  • Travel scams suggesting someone has either won free holiday or received an incredible deal. This has cost $135,000 this year
  • Parcel delivery scams in which scammers con customers into printing off a label, doing a survey and claiming a prize. These have cost $31,000

Tax scams are also particularly common at the moment Rickard said.

“This isn’t a usual holiday season scam, however a lot of people are getting calls from scammers pretending to be from the tax office or the police and threatening them with arrest over unpaid tax debts,” Rickard said.

“This is a scam. If you ever get a call or email containing threats like this, hang up the phone or delete the email.”

This follows a warning from the ACCC last month regarding a con that prompted businesses to pay suppliers into a ‘new’ bank account.

When it comes to the costly fake online shopping scams, Rickard told shoppers to exercise extra caution.

“We love snagging a great deal online for a loved one’s Christmas present and the idea of a bargain holiday is perfect for many after a long year. But don’t fall for it,” Ms Rickard said.

“Be sceptical about an online store you haven’t used before. Do some research to see if they’re legitimate and don’t be fooled by big discounts. With travel deals, call the accommodation provider directly, for example the cruise line or hotel, to check if the deal is legitimate.”