Are you scam savvy?

Scam Savvy - Mature woman on laptop and phone

This is not your life

National Scams Awareness Week: 17-21 August

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has launched a podcast series for this year’s National Scams Awareness Week to provide Australians with tips on how to protect their personal and financial details from scammers.

The five-episode podcast series, This is Not Your Life, is produced by Julian Morrow, the creator of ABC TV’s consumer series The Checkout. The podcast, which is a parody on the popular TV show This Is Your Life, contains advice on how to avoid a scammer stealing your identity and features cameos from ACCC Chair Rod Sims, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant and IDCARE’s founder David Lacey.

Scamwatch has received a staggering 24,000 reports of stolen personal information this year alone, an increase of 55 per cent compared with the same time last year. Australians reported losing more than $22 million to scammers who also stole their personal information. Scammers are targeting personal information more than ever which has contributed to an increase in financial losses across all scams, up to $91 million so far this year.

This year’s National Scams Awareness Week has over 100 partners from the government, NGO and business sectors working together to raise awareness about scams that steal personal information under the tagline: 'Be yourself. Don’t let a scammer be you'.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, with more people working and socialising online, we have unfortunately seen a sharp increase in scammers seeking personal information,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Personal information, such as bank and superannuation details or passwords, are extremely valuable and scammers will try to steal them for their own financial gain. Our increased use of technology has created more opportunities for them to do so.”

“Scammers will also try and steal a range of other documents, or the numbers associated with them, including passports, driver licences, credit cards, tax statements, utility bills or Medicare cards, so that they can impersonate you,” Ms Rickard said.

Phishing scams, the most common form of scam, are up by 44 per cent compared with the same time last year. Scammers pretend to be from government departments and businesses, like the ATO, myGov, Telstra or the NBN, to gain bank account details and other information about a person that can be used to impersonate them.

Once a scammer has that information, they can then use it to access bank accounts or superannuation, take out loans under other people's names and impersonate them on social media to try to get money from family and friends.

“Scam victims who have lost personal information are vulnerable to further scams, fraud or identity theft,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you do have your identity stolen, it can take years to recover and people can end up losing more than money. Not only time in trying to undo the damage done financially, but it can also impact greatly on your mental health.”

“Never give your personal or financial information to anyone you don’t know or trust via email, text, social media or over the phone,” Ms Rickard said.

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, contact IDCARE on 1300 432 273. IDCARE is a free government-funded service which will work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you throughout the process.

If you have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed to inform them of the circumstances.

More information on scams is available on the Scamwatch website, including how to make a report and where to get help.

 

                                                                                                                          

 

If in doubt, don't

That’s the message Consumer Affairs Victoria – the state’s fair trading regulator – is giving older Victorians when it comes to staying safe online.

Many older Victorians are attractive targets for scammers because they often own substantial assets and have access to life savings and superannuation.

Older Victorians are also the fastest growing online user group in the country. Many of you go online to keep in touch with your children, family and friends, to correspond via email, watch YouTube videos or catch-up TV, or to research and book travel, to name a few.

Life events such as financial hardship and recovering from illness, loss and trauma can also leave you more vulnerable to scams.

Consumer Affairs Victoria is working to reduce the harm caused by scammers by building greater awareness and understanding of online scams among older Victorians.

Scammers are professional criminals. Anyone can fall for a scam because scammers are getting smarter and using more sophisticated tricks to dupe thousands of older Victorians every year.

Here are some tips for staying safe online:

  • Do not open suspicious text messages, pop-up windows, or emails.
  • Be wary of any emails or requests on social media from people you do not know.
  • Avoid sending money, personal or financial details to someone you have never met in person, especially if you are online dating.

And remember; if in doubt, don’t.

Think you’re a scam savvy senior? Take the quiz and find out.

For more information on common types of scams, tips on how to identify, avoid or report them, visit Consumer Affairs Victoria