The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have issued a warning for consumers and business owners to be on the lookout for fake delivery parcel scams arriving in your inbox this Christmas season. Over 100 reports of this scam have already been received for December, with only half the month gone.

The ACCC is also seeing a significant increase in both personal and commercial information loss being reported to this scam, with over 350 reports this year, compared to 250 in 2014.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard warned that scammers take advantage of the busy Christmas season to send emails about a ‘missed parcel delivery’, purportedly from trusted services such as Australia Post or Fed Ex. These emails appear to be legitimate and may contain personalised information such as your name and address.

The email may mention a fee will be charged while they hold your undelivered item with scammers asking you to open an attachment or download a file to retrieve your parcel. As soon as the file is opened, ransomware will be installed on your computer.

“Ransomware is a type of malware that freezes your computer and demands a ransom for you to be able to access your computer again. Scammers commonly ask for bitcoins or ask you to transfer money by wire transfer. Even if you pay the fee, there is no guarantee that your computer will be unlocked,” Ms Rickard said.

To stay protected this Christmas:

  • Do not click on links or download files in emails you receive out of the blue, especially if they are executable (.exe) files or zip files.
  • If you are suspicious about a ‘missed’ parcel delivery, call the company directly to verify that the correspondence is genuine. Independently source the contact details – do not rely on numbers provided.
  • Regularly back-up your business’ data on a separate hard drive. If your computer is infected by malware or ransomware you can restore the factory setting and easily reinstall all of your software and data.

Scams can be reported to the ACCC via Scamwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.