“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

That is the message from CBA General Manager of Group Fraud, James Roberts, to Australians this festive season.

“For scammers, Christmas is a time of opportunity,” said Mr Roberts. “While everyone else is thinking about buying Christmas gifts or spending time with friends and family, scammers are busy targeting their next victim.”

The latest December data from CBA shows Australians are losing the most money to investment scams, which represent 59 per cent of all value lost to scams. However, remote access scams are the most common type of scam, representing 43 per cent of scams by volume.

Despite these continued trends, there are simple steps people can take to stay safe.

Mr Roberts says the best way to protect yourself over Christmas is to stop, check and reject every suspicious message or phone call.

“Most scammers use time-pressure tactics to push you into doing something that you ordinarily would not do.”

When shopping online he says people should be “naturally sceptical”.

“Be wary of any offer that seems too good to be true, such as luxury items or popular brands being offered at unusually low prices,” he adds. “Don’t rush or be pressured by ‘limited offers’ or end of sale ‘countdowns’ – scammers always try to create a sense of urgency.”

Staying safe this holiday season

Scammers are continually evolving their tactics to take advantage of the latest trends.

It’s important to stay up to date with the latest scams to protect yourself, your family and your friends from potentially falling victim to a scam.

Here are some common scams to look out for over the holidays:

1. Relationship scams – ‘Hi Mum/Dad’ scam

With many families out and about during the festive season, you may receive messages on different messaging platforms from a scammer posing as a relative. They'll usually pose as your children, or even as your mum or dad. The scammers will often say that they’re using a "new" number and ask for funds to pay for an urgent expense.

What to watch for:

  • WhatsApp, Facebook messenger or an SMS claiming to be your children or family member asking for money
  • The scammer will often say that they’ve broken their phone and are using a "new" number
  • They’ll often ask for an urgent NetBank transfer of money or to pay for a bill or other expenses with your card

Don’t transfer any funds being requested in these messages, and call your relative on their "old" number to confirm. If you do transfer funds, the likelihood of recovering these funds would be minimal, if any.

2. Online shopping scams

Everyone loves a bargain, but watch out for websites where the prices of items are unusually low, or where upfront payments are requested outside the usual payment channels (e.g. via money order or gift cards).

Be careful when making purchases through social media marketplaces, as there are generally no consumer protections for these. Explore more tips about staying safe while online shopping.

3. Parcel delivery scams

With many of us expecting parcel delivery at this time of year, you may receive SMS and email notifications advising that unexpected packages have been delivered or are ready to be collected.  These scam notifications often contain links to fake websites where you are encouraged to provide personal or banking information to receive your package.

Watch out for unexpected messages that ask you to input any personal information or request a payment.

4. Flight and holiday accommodation scams

Beware of holiday scams when booking your next trip. When purchasing flights, always buy your tickets from reputable websites or from the airline directly. Scammers set up fake websites that appear legitimate to make you believe you’re purchasing real flight tickets.

Be wary of discounts on accommodation that seem “too good to be true”, require upfront deposits or aren’t actually available for rent.

5. Charity scams

Many legitimate charities run donation campaigns during the festive season. Scammers use this time of giving to convince people to donate to their non-existent charity.

If you ever doubt of the legitimacy of a charity, contact them directly after verifying their details with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register.

Go to CBA Newsroom for the latest news and announcements from Commonwealth Bank.