Online Shopping Scams
What is an Online Shopping scam?
An online shopping scam is when scammers trick shoppers into purchasing popular branded goods. More often than not, your order will never be delivered, while in other circumstances the items you receive will be a counterfeit or of poor quality.
Scammers will lure customers by creating fake websites, ads or social media profiles that closely resemble a well-known or popular store, or even pose as a seller on legitimate sites like Amazon.
Examples of scams*
Sarah decided to purchase a BBQ after finding the item heavily discounted on an online shopping website. While on the checkout page she saw the fine print stating that all credit card payments would incur a 2.99% fee. However, if she were to pay via direct transfer, not only would there be no surcharge but she would also receive a 5% discount on top of the already low advertised price. She opted for that payment method.
A few days later, she received an email from the retailer advising her that her order could not be fulfilled due to a logistics issue. The email went on to say that her order would be cancelled and she would receive a full refund. Unfortunately, her money was never refunded and her emails were never responded to.
Signs this may be a scam
Price too good to be true.
If an online site or social media post offers a popular or branded product at a highly discounted price, especially with a time limit, this should be an immediate red flag.
URL name is abnormal.
Always double check the address of the site you’re shopping in as scammers will try to make the URL of their fake website look as identical as possible to the real site.
Unusual payment methods.
If you’re asked to pay for your purchase via uncommon online shopping methods - such as money order, wire transfer, or crypto currency - this is likely a scam.
Insufficient information or typos.
Avoid online retailers that do not display details about themselves such as their T&Cs, ABN, trading history (e.g., About us), or if their site has multiple obvious typos.
What you can do if you
come across a scam
Let us know
- If you’ve sent a payment to a scam seller or scam website, or would like to report a scam or suspicious activity, contact Westpac immediately at 132 032 or +61 2 9155 7700 (if calling from overseas).
- If you believe an online shopping site to be fraudulent, report it to ACCC's Scamwatch. Or if you think a social media post/seller could be a scam, report it to the social media platform.
- You can also report all suspicious activity to the Australian Cyber Security Centre at cyber.gov.au/report.
Get support and stay in the know
- IDCARE provides free, confidential support and guidance to those impacted by fraud, scams, identity theft or compromise. Call them toll-free on 1800 595 160 or visit idcare.org.
- Keep up to date on scams by subscribing to the government's scam email alerts from scamwatch.gov.au/subscribe.
- Read our top six tips on how you can avoid online shopping scams.
- Learn about buying or selling scams.
Things you should know
* Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes, real names have not been used.