Lifestyle

The 12 Scams of Christmas

Christmas tree.
Christmas tree. Nicholas Falconer

WITH the news that more than 60% of Australians plan to do their Christmas shopping online this year, locals are being warned of the heightened risk of scammers during the holiday season.

"The number of Australians doing their Christmas shopping online is set to double this year, and with that comes greater opportunity for cyber-crooks looking to put a dampener on the silly season," said Sean Duca, online security spokesman for anti-virus software producer McAfee.

"We have one of the highest rates of smartphone and tablet usage in the world, so Aussies (need to be) aware of what to look out for and how to stay safe online."

One person who has noticed scams doing the rounds is Bundaberg retiree Dave Upson, who received two phone calls from different scammers on Friday alone.

"The first one that rang had an Indian accent and said his name was Mark Hill. He told me if I went to the post office and sent $190 to the Western Union, he'd personally come and hand me a cheque for $5248 the next day," Mr Upson said.

"He said because I was a good bloke with no convictions and had served my community well; the Federal Government was giving me this payout."

While the crooks chose the wrong person to call - Mr Upson is a retired police officer - he said he worried others would fall prey to the scam.

"It was very convincing," he said.

"My wife took another call (the same day) saying she had overpaid fees to be returned."

Mr Duca said it was not unusual for people to be sucked in by these scams, with a survey of Australian consumers revealing a third of Australians had personally fallen victim to a scam or knew someone who had.

In order to make sure that number does not continue to rise, Mr Duca warned shoppers to be on the lookout for the many scams bound to be circulating the web this Christmas such as scam e-cards, bogus gift cards, fake charities and travel scams.

"The holidays are an exciting time and millions of us will be going online to shop for the best deals, book travel and stay in contact with friends via social networks," Mr Duca said.

"The first step in ensuring your personal details stay safe and secure at this busy time is to check your security protection on your mobile devices as well as your PC."

"Another way Australians can reduce the risk of coming across a cyber-threat is to be wary of offers that are too good to be true.

"They shouldn't click on links or open attachments from people they don't know, and should go directly to websites by typing the site's URL in the web address bar."

The 12 Scams of Christmas

1. Social media scams
Beware of ads for phony contests and "stay at home" job postings, even if they are from your friends.

2. Malicious Mobile Apps
Only download apps from official app stores. Check users' reviews and read the app permission policies.

3. Travel Scams 
Be wary of offers that are too good to be true and, when on the road, be careful of using free Wi-Fi connections.

4. Holiday Spam/Phishing 
Never respond to spam emails or click on the links in these emails.

5. iPhone 5, iPad Mini and other hot holiday gift scams 
Be suspicious of deals on hot holiday gift items and make sure to verify them with the retailer.

6. Skype Message Scare 
Never click on a suspicious link, even if it comes from someone you know.

7. Bogus gift cards 
Buy gift cards from the official retailer and not a third party source.

8. Holiday SMiShing 
Remember that legitimate businesses such as banks won't ask you to verify personal information via texts.

9. Phony E-tailers 
Only shop at trusted well-known e-commerce sites.

10. Phony charities 
When you want to give, visit the charity's website and do some research before donating.

11. Dangerous e-cards 
Check to see that the sender is someone you actually know and it comes from a well-known e-card site.

12. Phony classifieds 
Don't wire money for deals and make sure you don't pay for an item before receiving it.

Topics:  christmas, editors picks, internet, scam



More counterfeit money does the rounds on Northern Rivers

Police dismayed to discover a fake $50 note

Award-winning actor to join local reality TV project

The Laps is a reality adventure travel TV series, following hosts Dustin Hollick and Rhian Slapp around with no cash, no car, no phone, and just 10 personal items each.

Reality TV series The Laps follows Lennox Head's Rhian and Dustin

Cinema closed for two weeks

UPGRADES: Kyogle Community Cinema's projection system was upgrade to a digital system in 2013.

Don't count on taking kids to movies at this Northern Rivers town

Local Partners

Mmmm .... Melon and meat - a winning combination

Get your rockmelon seeds with today's paper.

Make great bruschetta treat from fruits of today's FREE seeds

Top five in entertainment this week

ALT-ELECTRONIC: This weekend you get a chance to listen to Still Fighting, the new single by local band Tijuana Cartel.

Music and comedy with a splash of partying

Kim Kardashian West wants restraining order against prankster

She was attacked by Vitalii Sediuk for the second time in two years

Who's getting up on stage this week?

HITS: THE Eagles  Band is a tribute to Southern California's most famous musical group, The Eagles. One of the most successful bands of the 70s, The Eagles enjoyed massive worldwide success and conquered the world and even today, the concert DVD Hell Freezes Over is still the best selling DVD ever. Enjoy this tribute band at the Ballina RSL Club tomorrow Friday from 8pm. $54.90.

All the gigs for this busy entertainment week

Cinema closed for two weeks

UPGRADES: Kyogle Community Cinema's projection system was upgrade to a digital system in 2013.

Don't count on taking kids to movies at this Northern Rivers town

Buyers forking out millions

Owners benefiting from undersupplied Northern Rivers market

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

New $33 million development planned for Ballina Shire

The site of a proposed seniors living development at Skennars Head.

Plans include 211 homes, clubhouse and recreational facilities

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction