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Urgent warning for online shoppers this Mother’s Day




Australians who are shopping around online for something special this Mother’s Day are being warned to watch out for online scams.

Across the country, experts say they have seen a 40 per cent rise in phishing attacks compared with this time last year.

The spikes has prompted an urgent warning ahead of Mother’s Day this weekend, with many shoppers turning to online stores to purchase gifts.

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Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake outlined some simple precautions to help shoppers stop scammers spoiling the special day.

“It’s great to be able to purchase thoughtful gifts so easily, but people need to take steps to keep themselves safe from scams, including fake websites,” she said.

“Fake sites can look very convincing. Please don’t trust a site just because you’ve seen it advertised or shared on social media.

“The best way to detect a fake trader or online shopping scam is to search for independent reviews before purchasing. Other warning signs include very low prices and unusual payment options such as money order or wire transfer.”

Australians who are shopping around online for something special this Mother’s Day are being warned to watch out for scams. File image. Credit: interstid/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shoppers are also reminded to check trader’s returns and refund policies for further information.

“Most products and services have automatic consumer guarantees, which means you can get a remedy if a product is faulty, or if you receive the wrong item,” Blake said.

“Consumer rights apply whether buying online or in store.”

Those rights also apply to gift cards, a popular option for Mother’s Day.

Most gift cards have a minimum three-year expiry period and the expiry date must be clearly displayed on the gift card or voucher.

Buyers should check these terms and conditions to ensure they suit the recipient.

Meanwhile, Avast cybersecurity expert Stephen Kho warned that Australia was in the midst of a “scamdemic”.

“There is a clear disconnect between Australians’ perceived confidence in ability to identify a scam and the increasing amount of money being lost to scams every year,” he told

“In reality, this is being further fuelled by our own fear of embarrassment, with half of Australians admitting they would feel embarrassed if they fell for a scam despite the prevalence and sophistication of some of these scams, as scammers get sharper with their tools and scams become increasingly more targeted to individuals’ situations.”

What to do

Kho says if any of the following applies, it may mean you are being contacted by a scammer:

  • The sender’s name is vague, and the email address is long or convoluted;
  • The sender’s phone number is international or an unknown local phone number;
  • The email or message is attention-grabbing or alarmist;
  • The call you have received is from an unknown number with a robo-speaker;
  • The email or message urges immediate action of some kind;
  • The email, message or call cites some pretence for seeking your personal information, including asking you to log in or confirm your details on a website;
  • The email or message requests payment or a transfer of funds; and
  • The email or message urges you to click hyperlinked text or a link without clarifying what you are clicking.

Australians can report scams to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission via the report a scam page.