The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned that scammers are becoming more cunning when it comes to online fraud.
The retail watchdog has reported 1,175 complaints of fake surveys, emails and social media posts that have imitated big retailers including JB Hi-fi, Bunnings and Woolworths, touting offerings that appear to be the real deal.
Victims usually receive an e-mail, text or social media notification out of the blue, claiming they have a chance to win a gift card or voucher from a well-known company.
Not unlike several legitimate online offers, people are then asked to complete a short survey and to pass the offer along to a friend before being able to claim the voucher.
This new breed of fraud is usually supported by a well-constructed website that imitates official company branding, making it more difficult to see beneath the veneer.
In this case, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard still warns against calling it a duck, because it's an easy way to fall out of pocket online with little chance of recovery.
Before jumping into any payments, she advises consumers to take precaution by visiting official websites or calling customer service lines to make sure an online promotion or deal is legitimate.
"Scammers use fake gift card promotions to trick consumers into handing over their personal information such as banking details or passwords, which are later used to steal your money or your identity, or to on-sell to other scammers," says Rickard.
"Protect your personal information by verifying whether an offer is legitimate by checking if it is listed on the retailers' official website or by calling the retailers' official customer service line."
The ACCC has suggested a number of tips when it comes to protecting your assets online.
They warn to be alert to unsolicited offers, avoid clicking links that do not connect to an official website and to take your time when verifying online offer before dishing out any personal information.
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