How to recognise a scam

The ACCC’s Scamwatch website currently states there have been 131,615 scam reports so far in 2019… equating to over $106 million lost.

The statistics indicate that even though there are regular media coverage and general scam alerts… many people still fall victim.

The complexity of scams continues to increase and it is becoming more difficult to recognise red flags.

With scammers using highly trusted companies as their cover and presenting themselves as professional staff members, it’s not surprising that they manage to succeed in stealing people’s funds.

Some warning signs

Some warning signs

Scammers become harder to identify as their methods become more sophisticated. But there are still some warning signs that you can look for…

Firstly, is the email, phone call or text unsolicited? If it comes from an unrecognisable source then it’s best to ignore it and hit delete. Scam emails often appear to have the branding of a company you know… like Netflix, PayPal or Microsoft… and the email address displays in your inbox with the business name… but when you look closer at the details, it might be from a Gmail account and the body of the email may only say ‘Dear Customer’ rather than your name.

Phone calls and texts that ask you to supply your personal account details should be immediately rejected.

If you aren’t 100% sure it’s a scam, you can always hang up and call the institution back on their published contact number. If the call was legitimate, you will be able to complete the request accordingly.

If you have been offered an inheritance, an unexpected prize or perhaps had an elaborate request to arrange an upfront payment to cover fees or taxes, it’s likely you’ve been approached by a scammer. These are all very common examples of ‘advance fee fraud’.

Current scams

Current scams

At any one time there are potentially hundreds of different scams being attempted in Australia.

These are a few of the recently reported fraudulent schemes… some have even targeted First Financial clients.

  • A ‘Telstra technician’ calls, using an employee ID number as verification. The technician introduces a supervisor and they advise that your account has been monitored and is involved in a cyber scam. They ask for your help in order to catch the ‘hacker’ and request you access your computer. From there, they deposit funds into your account in order to attempt to trap the ‘hacker’ but the process actually ends up removing all the funds from your account… the deposited amount, along with any of your own existing funds.
  • A recent NBN phone scam involves a robocalling system. You receive a call with a recorded message advising the NBN service in the area will be suspended for maintenance. The call prompts you to press ‘1’ to discuss further or ‘2’ to be disconnected from the internet. The intention of this scam is to try and gain your personal information and financial details. It’s important to remember that a company like the NBN Co will never ask for your bank account details or request payment.
  • Around the end of the financial year it is common for scams to involve the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or Department of Human Services. You can be contacted and told that you are entitled to a refund or that you have an outstanding debt that must be paid. Again, this scam is about gaining your personal information and financial details. While the Department of Human Services might send text messages or emails, they will never include links to websites in the message. If you receive anything with a link, do not click or open it.
Keep up to date

Keep up to date

Unfortunately, new scams are constantly being created and scammers will always try to be one step ahead of their victims. The best way to keep up to date with the most recent types of scams is to regularly check information on the Scamwatch website.

You can also read the ACCC’s Little Black Book of Scams for great information about common scams, tools scammers use and how to protect yourself.

If you are ever suspicious about contact you’ve received, make sure you keep your information safe. Regardless of whether it’s over the phone, via email or text, in person or through social media or online dating… never give out your personal information.

If you think you might have fallen foul of a scammer, contact the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk (Monday to Friday) on 1800 941 126. If you experience anything suspicious, you can also contact a First Financial team member for advice. Read more Financial Industry articles.

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