The Silly Season is upon us but that doesn’t mean you have to be silly. The ACCC is warning that at this time of year scammers prey on people’s generosity and vulnerability. Their SCAMwatch site has revealed their “12 Scams of Christmas” which include scams around holiday accommodation, flight bookings, charities, online shopping, parcel delivery, social media gift vouchers/free products, door-to-door scams, telephone scams, Christmas e-cards, romance scams, weight loss scams and lottery scams.

The simple rule is: if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. And remember, the responsibility lies with you to ensure you protect yourself and your personal information.

Always check with the hotel before buying holiday or accommodation vouchers that they will be honoured and never provide your credit card details to someone you don’t know.
Fake websites can look genuine so always book your travel through a legitimate agent or airline or travel website.
Fake charity emails and websites can use official-looking logos and words so always make your donations direct to legitimate charity organisations.

If you’re looking for gifts online be mindful that scammers will post fake classified ads or auction listings so you won’t only lose your money but you’ll never receive the goods you paid for. Be wary about paying for goods in full upfront – and be aware that scammers will often ask you for payment outside of the website’s official payment system.

Scammers may pose as Australia Post or other official delivery services and offer to redeliver parcels for a fee. Be sure to contact the official customer service line of the company directly to check if it’s genuine.

Rules for clicking links apply now as at any other time of the year. Never click a link at a social media website if it looks suspicious and be wary when filling in forms that ask for your personal information in exchange for free products.

I use ecards a lot and especially at this time of year but unfortunately hackers have used bogus ecard links to conceal malicious software in order to record keystrokes and personal information. Does that mean you should never open an ecard? I don’t believe so but exercise caution.

Legitimate ecard sites like Jacquie Lawson and Hallmark will ALWAYS give the name and email address of the person who has sent you the card. Your email program will also show you the legitimacy of the link to the card if you hover over it and if it looks at all dodgy don’t click it. Contact the sender and ask if they did in fact send you an ecard if you’re not sure.

And as always, ensure your antivirus software is up-to-date.
Check the SCAMwatch website for more information and to stay ahead of the scammers - http://www.scamwatch.gov.au

©Lyn Prowse-Bishop, http://www.execstress.com/

Author's Bio: 

Award-winning virtual assistant, Lyn Prowse-Bishop, MVA ASO CAVB PVAA is owner/manager of Executive Stress Office Support (eSOS), specialising in medico-legal digital transcription, virtual author support and executive personal assistant services for clients around the world.

One of Queensland’s most respected and well known virtual assistants, Lyn is also founder of the Australian Virtual Business Network, serves as Australian representative on international committees looking at standards and certification for the VA industry, and is a foundation steering committee member of the annual Online International Virtual Assistants Convention. She hosts Australia’s first internet radio show/podcast for the VA industry – Virtual Business Show – and is Queensland representative on the Board of Independent Contractors Australia.

How can you spend less time in the office and more enjoying life? Visit her site or email lyn@execstress.com to find out.