Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input

Australians have lost over $21 million to buying and selling scams in 2020*, and this number continues to rise. So, it's more important than ever to understand what these scams are and how to avoid them.  

5 tips to avoid online shopping scams

1. Too good to be true?

If it looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, if you can't find a deal that good elsewhere, it's likely a scam.

2. Check website authenticity

If shopping at an unknown or unfamiliar retailer, search for reviews beyond the retailer’s site and/or use a website reputation checker.

3. Use secure payments

Where possible, pay using a credit card, PayPal or, if available, use the dynamic CVC on your digital card. Avoid payments such as gift cards, cash, wire transfer or cryptocurrency.

4. Check link legitimacy

Check that a link is sending you to a website you recognise by hovering over it before clicking. Also, confirm the spelling of the URL is the website you’re expecting.

5. Verify buyers & sellers

Scammers can easily pose as both buyers and sellers on platforms like Gumtree, eBay and Facebook Marketplace, so be cautious and read the ratings and reviews of sellers.

Take our Security Wellbeing Check

Being scam savvy is just the start - safeguarding your information is important too. That’s why within the Westpac App you’ll find the Security Wellbeing Check – a comprehensive list of features that should be updated to ensure you’re provided with additional protection. 

What are buying and selling scams?

Scammers can pose as both buyers and sellers, to try and scam you out of money or items you might be looking to sell. 

As a buyer, you may be tricked into paying for a product that may not exist or is never delivered. These are also known as online shopping scams (which includes phishing, websites, fake versions of real retail websites), classified scams, health and medical product scams, mobile premium services scams, or psychic & clairvoyant scams. 

As a seller, you maybe tricked into believing the buyer has paid in full or even paid over your advertised amount, including sending falsified payment receipts to support their claim. The buyer may request a refund for over payment or reimbursement for out of pocket expenses, or you later find the amount was not paid into your account. 

What to do now?

Alex was eager to sell his car on an online selling site. He advertised it for $20,000 and was excited to have a buyer respond quickly.

His buyer was living interstate and asked Alex if the car could be couriered to his location. Alex agreed. The buyer insisted on transferring the funds immediately, including additional costs to cover the courier.

The buyer sent Alex a coloured copy of his driver’s licence and a payment receipt.

Happy that he had proof of the payment and the buyer’s identification. He sent the car to the requested location.

Alex then realised the funds had not gone into his account. He could not get in contact with the buyer and found the licence he had been sent had been stolen.

Alex never received his money and lost the car.

Connie answered the door to Mark, a friendly tradesperson.

Mark pointed out that repairs were urgently needed on her property, or her roof would soon collapse and cost three times the amount to fix it.

Connie was worried she had a considerable issue with her roof and could not afford the cost if it were to collapse; she asked if Mark could fix it straight away.

Mark agreed and booked the job in for Friday but requested the payment upfront in cash.

On Friday, Mark was unable to be contacted, and did not complete the work. At this point Connie realised she had been scammed and lost her money.

Although she was still concerned about her roof and wanted to be sure there was no work needed. To be sure she had inspected by a local tradesperson who confirmed no work was required, further confirming this was a scam.

Jane had been searching online for a Cavoodle for her family and saw an ad for a pup for sale for $3,000.

She went to the breeder’s website which appeared to be reputable, listing guarantees and testimonials. The breeder was located interstate.

Jane had several conversations by email and phone with the Breeder, Sarah.

Jane paid a deposit of $1,500 for the puppy, as well $500 for the cost of transport.

A couple of days before the delivery date, Sarah asked for the balance owing to be paid. Jane refused to pay until she had received the puppy.

No puppy ever arrived. Jane’s attempts to contact Sarah via emails, phone and the website went unanswered.

The $2,000 Jane had paid was never recovered.  

These scams are also known as puppy scams or gumtree scams.

Want to know more?

Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.

Types of scams

Learn how you can spot different types of scams and what you can do to avoid becoming a target.


Thing you should know

*Scamwatch Scam Statistics – Buying or selling 2020 – statistics current as at 23.11.20

^Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.

Read the Westpac Online Banking Terms and Conditions at before making a decision and consider whether the product is right for you.