Your identity is your most valuable asset. Protect it. Your freedom depends on it.
Estimated reading time is 4 minutes.
Estimated reading time is 4 minutes.
Much of our shopping can now be done online and while ecommerce has its benefits, it comes with risks too. Protect yourself from common online buying and selling scams by staying alert to these common red flags.
Purchasing scams have recently been on the rise, with fraudsters active on both sides of a transaction. These scams take place on common ecommerce platforms used by genuine people, such as eBay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Carsales. Staying alert to the red flags below can help you spot a scammer and avoid falling victim to online fraud.
Be wary of buyers or sellers who:
A scammer posing as a legitimate buyer may:
A scammer posing as a legitimate seller may:
Scammers have been using the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic to their advantage, creating an opportunity to run online scams, including puppy scams. According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australians lost nearly $300,000 to puppy scams in the first five months of 2020 alone.
In a puppy scam, an individual or business offers to sell a popular breed of dog for a low price. However, after money is transferred to secure the purchase, all communications stop.
Jenny* wanted to buy a puppy for her daughter’s birthday. She found an advertisement online offering Cavoodle puppies for a low price. She contacted the seller to see if there were any pups available.
Jenny says, “The seller Boris told me they only had one puppy left, so I had to be quick. I was interested, and asked if I could see the puppy in person or via video call. He said no as they apparently had bad reception, but that he could send me pictures. The pictures looked legitimate to me and I really wanted the puppy for my daughter, so I decided to go ahead with it. Boris sent me an email that looked like it was from my bank asking me to transfer money, so I did.”
“When I hadn’t heard from him for two weeks after paying, I kept trying to follow up with him, but he kept giving me excuses. I never heard from Boris again. I contacted my bank but they were unable to help me recover the funds I had sent. My daughter and I never got the puppy we were hoping for. If I bought another dog in the future, I would insist on seeing the puppy on a video call, and would only hand over cash when I picked up the dog.”
Raj* wanted to sell his old phone to make some money to put towards a new one. He created a listing on a common online marketplace, and received a message from a potential buyer, Daniel, shortly after.
“Daniel told me to send him an email directly to discuss the sale further, rather than going through the online platform. He seemed keen to proceed with the sale – he told me he was on deployment in the army and needed a better phone. Daniel asked me to be quick in sending the phone as he needed it urgently before they were deployed. The next day he made the transfer, and sent me a screenshot of his receipt.
“Shortly after, he messaged me again saying he’d realised he had accidentally overpaid me, and wanted a refund for the difference. Even though the funds hadn’t landed in my account yet, I was happy to refund him the difference as the receipt looked legitimate.
“A week later, I had sent the item to him and refunded the $250 difference, but still hadn’t received his transfer to my bank account. I wasn’t able to get a hold of Daniel again, he blocked me on email and social media. I was left out of pocket for the actual phone, the money I should have got for selling it, and the ‘refund’ I sent him for the ‘overpayment’.”
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Follow the below tips to help keep your identity and your money safe online.
If you’re a NAB customer and believe you may have fallen victim to a scam, please call 13 22 65 immediately and ask for the Digital Fraud and Anti Scam Team.
Australian Government | Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) brings cyber security capabilities from across the Australian Government together in a single location. It’s the hub for private and public sector collaboration and information sharing to combat cyber security threats. ACSC provides topical, relevant and timely information on how home internet users and small businesses can protect themselves from, and reduce the risk of, cyber security threats such as software vulnerabilities, online scams, malicious activities and risky online behaviours.
Australian Government | ReportCyber
ReportCyber is a secure reporting and referral service for cybercrime and online incidents which may be in breach of Australian law. The ReportCyber website provides a cybercrime reporting mechanism as well as helpful information about cybercrime.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission | Scamwatch
Scamwatch provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams using publications, videos and other online resources.
Australian Government | Office of the eSafety Commissioner
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides online safety education for Australian children and young people, a complaints service for young Australians who experience serious cyberbullying, and address illegal online content.
Australian Government | Attorney-General’s Department
The Attorney-General’s Department website provides helpful information and resources about your rights and protections in regards to identity security, freedom of information and cyber security. The Department has developed a range of resources to assist people protect their identity and recover from the effects of identity crime.