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Beware of Woolworths Gift Card Scams

DON'T BE FOOLED by a recent email scam offering Woolworth's customers a $2000 gift card.

On the night of Sunday, 6 August, a processing error was made by Cuscal (a payment processor widely used by banks credit unions and card issuers) and some incorrect withdrawals were made on accounts belonging to clients and customers of Woolworths. Customers reported that their accounts had been debited a second time for purchases made back in early March 2017.

Woolworths issued a statement apologising for any hardships caused, and advising that it was working to ensure any customers who were out of pocket could “buy essentials until the financial services companies have resolved these issues”.

Since then, it seems that hackers have tried to cash in on this processing issue, by sending out fake emails, offering customers a $2000 gift card, as settlement for the double-charges.

On 22nd August 2017, a number of customers posted comments on Facebook reporting that they had received emails, containing the Woolworths logo, with the following subject line, "We are delighted to inform you of your victory".

The full message can be seen below:

The email directed customers to click a link to claim their gift card. This link then redirected victims to a phishing site. These types of scams generally ask users to fill in a long survey, as well as requesting details such as, name, Medicare number, passport number, drivers licence etc., all of which information is extremely valuable to cyber criminals.

A spokesman said: “Woolworths has no affiliation with this scam. We have reported this scam to the ACCC’s Scamwatch and have advised our social media team. If customers believe they are being targeted we encourage customers to delete the post immediately and report it to us on 1300 767 969.”

In previous months, Woolworths has also warned customers of fake ATO phone calls, by putting signs at store fronts. Warning messages said, “Woolworths is warning our customers to be aware of false calls made by persons claiming to be from the ATO, Director of Public Prosecutions or any other government agencies or businesses. These scammers demand customers to purchase iTunes or other gift cards to pay fake debts otherwise face imprisonment, deportation, or threaten to make your financial situation public. Government agencies will never demand payment with gift cards.”

Consumer Affairs WA has warned that iTunes gift cards are becoming the payment method of choice for scammers. Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner, David Hillyard, said, "Most of the victims are seniors who may not understand what iTunes cards are, but are told by scammers that they are an acceptable payment method and they feel obliged to follow instructions from people they believe are in authority."

It is presumed that once the victim hands over the card numbers, the scammers are then able to on-sell the vouchers and turn them into cash.

FraudWatch International recommends that people keep an eye out for these types of gift card scams and inform elderly relatives, friends and neighbours of the scams too, so they won't fall victim to them.

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