Stay Clear of Blackmail Scams
Did you know you can be tricked into paying for something you never ordered online?
Recently there has been a new wave of scams hitting Australian shores that is costing the economy $300 million. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams report, $3.8 million of the amount are the losses of 6000 businesses. From phone scams, such as ‘Can you hear me?’ to buying and selling scams, ‘scammers’ are becoming increasingly clever in how they trick, deceive and manipulate consumers and businesses.
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A Danish online retailer has been caught sending Australians up to $90 dollars’ worth of beauty products they never ordered. The company, LuxStyle, has come to the attention of the ACCC who released a public warning after receiving a whopping 127 complaints within two months.
LuxStyle advertised its products on social media with a direct link to their website that did not display prices unless the customer entered their address and email. If the customer decided not to continue with their purchase, and exited the website, the order would not be automatically cancelled. According to the ACCC, the company sent an invoice demanding payment. A few weeks later, a package unexpectedly shows up on their doorstep even though the customer had not paid for it. Until they do, LuxStyle will threaten them with a law suit, late fees, and send letters from debt collectors. If this fails, LuxStyle makes a proposition that involves the customer bearing the costs.
A mother told Mamamia she wanted to send the package back, but could not find the return address. Fortunately, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) affords consumers protection against businesses with questionable sale methods.
If you have received unsolicited goods or services, you can lodge a report on the ACCC’s website.
What If This Happens To Me?
The ACCC prohibits businesses from sending unsolicited products and asserting a right to payment for goods consumers did not agree to pay. If you receive unsolicited product or services, here are some steps the ACCC recommends you can take:
- You do not have to pay for the products or services.
- If you did not pay for the products, do not open the package. Send it back.
- You are not liable for products that are lost or damaged as a result of the supply of unsolicited services.
- You should write to the business that you do not want the product(s).
- Do not unreasonably refuse to allow the supplier to recover the products.
- Do not damage the products.
- You can keep the products without having to pay for them if the supplier does not collect them within one month or three months.
- Do not keep products that are not addressed to you.
In summary, consumers have an obligation to return the item, and businesses may recover the product within a certain time frame.
Before purchasing products or services online, do thorough research about the supplier and their history, including reading reviews. Never share your personal information, such as your email or home address, unless you are absolutely certain you want to make a purchase. Remember you have rights under the ACL, and recourse to the ACCC.
For more information check out the ACCC’s Scamwatch website.
Let us know what you think about online scams. Share it with us by tagging #lawpath or @lawpath.
Fiona is a Paralegal working in our content team which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With an interest in information, media, consumer and employment law, her primary focus is on how technology will affect the future of the legal industry.