Shoppers are being warned to watch out for scam websites impersonating retail websites during this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is detecting an increase in fake online stores that look like genuine and big-name brands in the lead-up to the popular sales.
Australians are expected to spend $6.36 billion across the four days of sales from November 24 to November 27, according to Roy Morgan, which would be three per cent more than was spent last year.
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The average shopper is expected to spend $440 in this year’s sales.
There have already been 2760 reports of fake online stores, resulting in more than $500,000 in losses in 2023.
ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said a “disturbing development” was scammers paying for their fake websites to appear at the top of search engines.
“This means you can’t necessarily trust the first listing you see,” Lowe said.
She encouraged shoppers to check the site URLs of the brands they were shopping with or scroll down the search results to ensure they found the correct site.
“Consumers should also be aware that scammers are using social media platforms to set up bogus stores and to advertise their fake websites,” Lowe said.
Impersonation scams account for 70 per cent (234,672) of the reports to Scamwatch.
Cyber safety brand Norton found 91 per cent of Australians planned to shop online this festive season, compared to 95 per cent globally, according to their 2023 Holiday Cyber Safety Insights report.
Seventy-two per cent of Australian respondents said they were confident they could shop online safely.
Norton recommends shoppers “avoid the allure of deals and offers that seem too good to be true”.
Other tips for cyber security safety include creating strong, unique passwords and installing protection software.