As Australians start going internet shopping crazy ahead of Christmas, they're also being warned about a fake parcel delivery scam that's popping up in email inboxes across the country
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a warning about a rise in emails being sent by scammers, usually claiming to be from Australia Post or FedEx, saying the recipient has a parcel ready for collection.
What's worse, the ACCC says reports of the scam have tripled over last year, up to more than 4,300, with hundreds of Australians falling for the ruse and handing over personal information like banking details.
The ACCC's Scamwatch division keeps tabs on, and certain times of the year always see a pick up in reported activity, including around Valentine's Day. But it says the holiday season is also a peak period for dodgy dealing.
"Unfortunately this scam is particularly effective during the holiday season with so many Australians going online to buy Christmas presents," said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
"Scammers typically send emails pretending to be from Australia Post or FedEx, to try and trick you into believing you have an 'undeliverable package'. In some cases, these emails may include your name and address and include legitimate-looking company information, complete with fake logos."
The emails often threaten to charge a "holding fee" for packages, but also include links, attachments or file downloads that the reader is asked to click on to retrieve the package.
The advice? Never click.
"If you follow these instructions, you will likely download a ransomware virus that locks your computer," said Rickard. "To unlock your computer, scammers demand payment... [but] even if you pay the fee, there is no guarantee that you will be able to access your computer again."
So even if you're desperate for those shoes or Christmas gifts, remember that Australia Post will never email you to request payment or ask you to download files or attachments.
If it looks dodgy, delete it.