When purchasing a queen size mattress for my new home a few months I never dreamed I would be getting into bed with a scam company - but that's exactly what happened.
I made the buy filled with excitement. As expected the order confirmation came through and lulled me into a false sense of security - naively I thought the order was really coming.
I had no reason to be suspicious or on alert...
I waited and waited for the order confirmation page to update, informing me of when exactly the mattress would be delivered so I could prepare in advance - buy blankets, doonas, and all the rest - and make sure I would be home for the delivery.
After weeks with no update or delivery estimate, I contacted the company via email.
They responded almost two weeks later and apologised and said the delay was due to them being a small start up business who had received an overwhelming number of orders which caused their ordering system to crash.
They said if I didn't want to wait for the order, I could fill out a form and get a refund.
I decided to wait - I actually needed the mattress.
Fast forward a month, and more emails back and forth, and I was getting frustrated - but not yet suspicious.
Another month passed with no mattress and no update.
Still mattress-less and tired of waiting, I filled out the refund form and decided to go and buy a mattress elsewhere, perhaps in store.
More weeks past and my request for a refund went unanswered.
So on a whim or instinct - I'm not sure which it was - I Googled the business and I was shocked by what I found.
There were hundreds of bad reviews, with stories identical to mine - people waiting months for a product or refund they would never receive.
Many had attempted to contact the company - and got the same generic response I did, before eventually the company would go quiet.
The phone number supplied went straight to an automated voice message, the online webchat didn't work, and the links to social media accounts failed because the company had none.
I also came across a news article about people who shared their grievances, and my heart sank.
I realised I had been the victim of fraud. I wished I had researched the company before making a purchase.
I contacted my bank immediately - while they were sympathetic I was told the process would be lengthy and I may or may not get the money back.
So I urge you to take care when it comes to online shopping.
Fraud is a multi-million dollar business that comes in many forms and harms ordinary Australians, businesses, and the economy.
To keep yourself safe when shopping online, it is recommended to shop from known and trusted websites, pay securely through payment methods, such as PayPal, and be aware of fake parcel delivery notifications.
And when in doubt, don't click on links.
Experts also recommended using secure passwords and being aware of the personal information you give out online.
If you believe you have been the victim of online scams or fraud, you should contact your bank and authorities immediately.
For more information or resources, visit cyber.gov.au.
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