January 2015: SCAMwatch is urging consumers to be alert to scammers offering fake vouchers in exchange for financial and other personal information.
SCAMwatch continues to get reports from consumers about receiving emails, text messages and coming across social media posts possibly misusing the names and logos of well-known retailers such as Coles, Woolworths, ALDI, IGA, Bunnings and Myer.
Consumers are typically asked to click on a link, to complete a survey or to download a program to receive a free voucher, in some cases for an amount as high as $1 000. As a slight variation on this scam, consumers may be asked to pay a very small amount (sometimes even as low as just $1) to receive a voucher for a substantially higher amount.
Scammers often use such promotions as a disguise to collect credit card or bank account details and other personal information from consumers to access their money and commit identity theft.
Don't be fooled by a fake promotion – verify whether the offer is legitimate by getting in touch with the retailer purportedly offering the voucher using contact details you find independently.
How these scams work
- You receive an email or text message out of the blue, or come across a social media post, claiming that you will receive, or have the chance to win, a voucher from a well-known retailer.
- The email, text message or social media post appears legitimate and may use official logos and trademarks (or their look-a-likes) to lure you into thinking it is the real deal.
- To receive a free voucher, or to enter the draw, you may be asked to click on a link, to complete an online survey or to download a program. Alternatively, you may be prompted to pay a small amount to receive a voucher of significantly higher monetary value.
- Once you click on the link or agree to complete the survey, you will generally be taken to a website that appears legitimate and professional. The website will prompt you to provide your personal information, which may include your phone number, date of birth, address, qualifications and bank account or credit card details.
- In order to create a sense of urgency and to get you to provide your personal information without thinking, the website may claim that there are only few vouchers left, or give you limited time to fill in your information.
- If you provide your financial or other personal information, you may receive an invalid voucher or you may not receive a voucher at all. You may also begin to receive unsolicited emails and phone calls requesting further information to be provided and the scammer may use your details to commit identity theft or to steal your money.
- Know who you're dealing with – If you receive an email or text message out of the blue, or come across a social media post, claiming that you can receive a free or heavily discounted voucher, contact the retailer directly to verify the legitimacy of the offer. Don't rely on numbers, email addresses or websites provided – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – Many scams will promote free or heavily discounted deals in order to make them harder to resist.
- Don't let scammers push your buttons – Many scams will create a sense of urgency to cloud your judgment. Remember to step back and think twice before handing over any personal information.
- Remember – these days, it's easy for scammer to create a professional looking website and to use official logos and trademarks (or their look-a-likes).
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.
SCAMwatch has previously issued a radar on fake gift vouchers:
- September 2013: Beware of scam surveys and fake free offers
Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov
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