SADLY there are people out there trying to find new ways to relieve good, honest people of their hard-earned savings. Just as one scam is uncovered and shut down, another takes its place.
Too smart to be scammed? is the theme for Scams Awareness Week from August 12-16, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a wealth of information to help you identify a scam and avoid being caught.
In 2018, Australians made more than 177,000 reports to Scamwatch with losses of more than $107 million. People aged 65 and over submitted the largest number of reports, while those aged 55-64 had the highest losses. Investment and online dating scams continue to be the most financially devastating.
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
Be aware: You can be scammed online, over the phone, through the post or in person.
Scammers use all sorts of tactics: they could pretend to be a government official; claim to be from a well-known business; suggest you call a number or visit a website they provide to you. They appeal to your emotions and create a sense of urgency to get you to make decisions without thinking.
What to look for: Be careful if someone you don't know contacts you out of the blue; asks you to pay for something or give them money by payment methods such as gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrencies; or asks you for personal information like bank details or passwords.
Protect yourself: Don't be pressured by a threatening caller or email, or feel pressured to act quickly. If unsure, speak to a trusted friend or family member.
Know who you're dealing with: If you've only ever met someone online or are unsure if the business is genuine, do your research. If a message or email from a friend and seems unusual or out of character, contact your friend directly using contact details unrelated to the email. Use strong passwords for all your devices.
Don't open anything that looks suspicious: This includes texts, pop-up windows or links and attachments in emails. If unsure, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Don't use the contacts provided in the message sent to you. Don't allow anyone remote access to your computer unless you contacted them for a real problem you know about.
Beware emails requesting changes to payment details, and avoid public WiFi, particularly when doing online banking or sending or receiving personal information.
Don't ignore those red flags
A WOMAN was called by someone claiming to be from Telstra saying their internet had been compromised.
"I was to help him by sending money overseas; this would trap the 'hackers'," the victim said. "He would deposit money into my savings account. I would then use that money to send overseas via 'Moneygram' at the local 7 Eleven store.
"It was important I did no internet banking during this time for security reasons. I did this several times until I became suspicious and checked my bank balances. He had been getting cash advances on my credit card and depositing the money into my savings account. I immediately reported to the bank."
A call out of the blue claiming to be from a large organisation; claims the victim's computer was compromised; requests for account details and to send money overseas. All are red flags: it's a scam.
For more about scams, where to get help if you've been scammed or to report a scam, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au
If you have given your personal information to a scammer, visit www.idcare.org - a national identity and cyber support service.
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