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17% rise in fraud-related calls during Black Friday: Westpac

The major bank has warned Australians to be on the lookout for scams leading up to the summer holidays after a rise in fraud calls.

Westpac data found that there was a 17 per cent increase in fraud-related calls in the days following the 2022 Black Friday sales, in which the bank facilitated over 32 million customer interactions and 14 million point-of-sale transactions.

Westpac general manager of financial crime and fraud prevention, Chris Whittingham, said scammers use the festive season as an opportunity to take advantage of “the generous hearts and wallets of Australians”.

The major bank has highlighted some common scams that arise in the holiday season, which include:

  • Fake parcel delivery scams have scammers impersonating well-known delivery services and send text messages informing that a parcel is on the way with a link to track delivery. Clicking the link may allow the scammers to download software onto your phone, thus giving them remote access.
  • Buying and selling scams often use fake websites selling goods and services at competitive prices. Westpac urges Australians to look them up online first before committing to buy.
  • Charity scams see scammers take advantage of generous individuals by setting up fake donation websites or by posing as door-knocking appeals.
  • Investment scams that offer fast and high returns continue to dominate reported cases, especially for those looking for a quick cash injection during the holidays.

“All Australians should take extra care when shopping online and be especially cautious of offers that may appear too good to be true, or that seek payment in new or unusual ways like through wire transfer, cryptocurrency or via instalments,” Mr Whittingham said.

The Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones, recently issued a warning of his own, also urging Australians to be on alert for potential scams during the summer break.

Mr Jones stated that the holiday shopping rush is a “major opportunity for scammers looking to catch the unwary”, especially the elderly or other vulnerable members of the Australian public.

This warning followed the Assistant Treasurer’s address to the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) on the surge of scams and major data breaches that have plagued Australians throughout 2022.

Furthermore, Mr Jones outlined the top five scams for Australians to be aware of in the lead-up to the festive season that included online shopping, parcel, unwanted presents, “Hi Mum”, and puppy scams.

[RELATED: Top 5 scams to avoid this festive season: Assistant Treasurer]

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