CANBERRA :  Online Christmas shoppers in Australia have been warned to protect themselves from scammers.

Checking the validity of websites and paying by credit card were two ways to shop safely, bankers and police say. And don’t respond to any email request for financial information, the Australian Bankers’ Association says.

Banks and other legitimate businesses do not ask for those details by email, chief executive David Bell says.

“Don’t click on any link embedded within a suspicious email or ccompanying attachment, and always call the retailer or financial institution to verify your account status before divulging any information,” he said.

The Australian Federal Police say using updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software will help prevent the scamming of credit card details.

“Exercise caution and sound judgement at the same time,” national manager of high-tech crime operations,” Neil Gaughan said.

Shoppers who didn’t want to be ripped off should also research the online merchant before placing an order. That includes calling the business to verify if it had a website.

Using credit cards to pay for goods online is the safest option as shoppers can track the sale process and dispute any excess charges later.

A recent survey found 52 per cent of respondents buy or sell goods online while 84 per cent use their computer for internet banking.

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