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Scammer claws are digging around

The festive season offers ideal opportunities for fraudsters to steal your money so be vigilant about appeals for an upfront payment.

The festive season offers ideal opportunities for fraudsters to steal your money so be vigilant about appeals for an upfront payment.

'TIS the season to be jolly. Particularly for scammers, fraudsters and phishers. They have been spending the year thinking of elaborate cons to try to get you to part with your money.

At Christmas, we might be particularly vulnerable as the spirit of the season grabs us and makes us more generous - or in want of a bit of extra cash.

An elaborate scam pretending to be from FedEx hit my email box last week. It was querying a delivery address for a package - entirely plausible at this time of year - but it just looked wrong so I deleted it. If you should receive a similar email or phone call asking for address details, alarm bells should start to ring if they ask for a fee to redeliver the package.

It's sad but it pays to be a Grinch at Christmas and always on the alert.

If you are in doubt, don't commit to anything and contact the company directly using their official customer service number, not the number provided by the potential scammer. If you think you have provided your details to a scammer, tell your bank.

This is a hard one but for all of those new to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc, you need to be pretty suspicious of links. A tweet or message of a link alone, without any explanation of what it is, is usually a bad sign.

Don't put too much identifying information up on social media sites, either. I'd be seriously thinking about turning off my location services on my phone for social media sites as well. If you've tweeted earlier in the day about your brand-new TV but two hours later your Facebook status has you miles from your home, a smart burglar wouldn't think twice.

A few months ago there was an email scam going around purporting to be from the Tax Office that would lead you to an authentic-looking website and, again, had an entirely plausible premise of a tax refund - even the email address looked authentic. They were after your bank details but if they had obtained your tax-file number as well they would have been able to steal your identity to do things such as access your superannuation, sell your house or apply for a government benefit. So keep this information as safe as any other personal details.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) MoneySmart website reports a new take on the Nigerian scam which uses ASIC names and letterhead requesting upfront payment.

"People receiving this email or letter should know that ASIC never contacts the public requesting upfront payment," ASIC says.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's SCAMWatch site is a good place to visit if you are in doubt. You can report a scam at or you can call them on 1300 795 995 if you:

Cannot find the information you need on the SCAMwatch website

Have a question or concern

Are in the process of sending money and are not sure if it is a scam

Have lost money or have not received goods or services for which you paid

Are the victim of a scam or are concerned about someone who you think has fallen victim to a scam.

Follow this writer on Twitter @Money_PennyP

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