2020 has been a lot of things but you can’t deny it’s been a good year for online shopping.
Unfortunately, it’s also proving to be a good year for scammers.
Just this week Scamwatch reported a 42 percent increase in online shopping scams in 2020. That’s a staggering 12,000 reports of online shopping scams this year and almost $7 million in losses.
If that sounds alarming, there are a few things you can look out for to avoid falling victim to scammers this holiday season.
If it seems too good to be true, it often is
Scam websites will often try to lure their customers with significant discounts.
With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and pre-Christmas sales coming up, it’s important to be extra cautious and make purchases through websites you trust.
If something doesn’t look right, it might not be
Be conscious of anything that looks or feels out of place.
It could be a domain name that has no relation to what the website is trying to sell. For example, a domain name about aviation that is selling handbags should raise a red flag.
If you suspect an online shop might not be legitimate, take a look at the contact details. An email address included as an image instead of text or a business address that turns out to be a residential home can be signs of a scam website.
com.au and net.au namespaces are local, verified and trusted
com.au and net.au namespaces can help you shop local but importantly, they can also help you shop more securely.
Not familiar with what sets them apart from other common commercial domains? Here’s what you need to know.
- Eligibility and allocation rules apply. To be eligible for a com.au or net.au namespace, businesses need to have an Australian presence and be registered with an appropriate Government issued identifier (such as an ABN or ACN), validated at the time of registration.
- There’s a public database of .au domain licence holders. auDA provides the WHOIS service at whois.auda.org.au. It allows you to check who is the legal entity that has the rights to use that domain name licence.
- Registrars that sell com.au and net.au domain licences are accredited by auDA. Our registrars must meet strict requirements to attain and keep their accreditation. This includes validating applications and monitoring domain names for compliance with our rules.
- We’re here to help. Our Compliance team is dedicated to keeping .au trusted by making sure domain names are issued to genuine businesses and that everyone is following the rules. If you come across a suspicious website with a com.au or net.au domain, you can report it by lodging a complaint. We’ll investigate it and take action.
- com.au and net.au are covered by Australian consumer protection laws. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, report it to the police who can investigate and, where appropriate, refer you to the relevant consumer protection body within your state. In some cases, you may be eligible for compensation.
- com.au and net.au are the designated commercial namespaces in the .au domain. They’re the only .au namespaces where businesses should be selling commercial services. Charitable and non-profit organisations in the org.au namespace can also operate online stores. However, if you visit an online shop in another .au namespace or an org.au that doesn’t appear to be a charity or non-profit, lodge an enquiry and we’ll look into it.
These rigorous policies and processes set a high bar for business to operate a com.au and net.au, and help us deliver a secure, reliable, and trusted .au domain for online shoppers and all Internet users.
For more information on scams and how to avoid them, visit Scamwatch.gov.au.