Protecting Yourself in Today’s World – From SCAMS and FRAUD
The world is being transformed every day with technology that is having a significant impact on our daily lives. But, as Wayne Howarth writes, with this comes the increased danger of you being targeted by scammers using technology to get hold of your hard-earned money.
Top Tips to Avoid Fraud
Here are five prevention tips from Western Union:
- Consult Resources: Keep up to date on the most common scam types. Information can be found at www.wu.com/fraudawareness and www.scamwatch.gov.au.
- Verify First: Before sharing information or sending money, make sure you personally know the person requesting it. If you’re unsure, verify with a friend or family member first.
- Phish/Smish: Cons often mislead people into providing personal or financial information by an unsolicited phone call, text or email. Never respond to, or click on, links or attachments from someone you do not know.
- Always Research: Do an online search of a company or product name with relevant words like “scam” or “complaint” to review information shared.
- Know What to Look For: Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person or for a payment of goods, services or purchases found online.
Remember – fraudsters and scammers target people using any means they can, often pretending to be from government, banks or trusted organisations.
They can contact you on the internet, through social media, by mail and over the phone. However, as technology advances and grows more complex, you need to remain vigilant. For example, scammers use technology to clone legitimate government and trusted organisation phone numbers to win your confidence to support their call is genuine. They create an email address very similar to a genuine organisation’s, hoping that you click on the embedded links that enable fraudsters to steal your personal information by recording all keystrokes you enter to take over your identity.
Being safe online ensures your personal information, such as bank details and passwords, doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Last year, $489 million in losses was reported according to the annual Targeting Scams report by ACCC, with scammers now increasingly asking for payment via unusual payment methods such as gift cards and cryptocurrencies to avoid the fraud detection systems of traditional financial organisations.
Those aged 55 and over reported more scams than any other age group, accounting for 48 per cent of the total amount loss. Often scammers see seniors as less familiar with new technologies, making them an attractive target.
Common Types of Fraud Scenarios Along with Valuable #BeFraudSmart Tips
You can protect yourself and your friends and family by arming yourself with knowledge of common fraud scenarios. These are the most frequent fraud scenarios that you should be aware of.
“Hi, I’m a representative from a phone/internet service provider.”
A person who claims to be a representative from your phone/internet service provider will tell you that they need your help to catch scammers trying to access your bank account online.
Be fraud-smart: Don’t do anything without contacting your phone/internet provider on a number you obtain from the phone directory or an internet search to confirm the details of the call. Never give personal information over the phone or send money without being certain.
“Hi, I’m a government tax representative.”
A person who claims to be a government tax representative will ask you to send cash to an individual or to a bank account to avoid being arrested.
Be fraud-smart: The authorities would never request immediate payment. Contact the relevant government department on a number you obtain from the phone directory or an internet search and let them know about the call.
“I’m interested in buying the item you’re selling online.”
You will be contacted by a buyer who claims they have overpaid for their online purchase. They may even provide a fake email from the payment method company.
Be fraud-smart: Never send money back without first verifying with the payment method company if the buyer’s claim is real.
“You’ve won! Send money now to claim your prize.”
You will be contacted about a prize you have won. However, you will be asked to send money to cover taxes or fees to claim the prize.
Be fraud-smart: Legitimate sweepstake companies do not ask winners to pay money in advance to receive prizes.
“Your computer is not secure. Purchase anti-virus now!”
You will get a call from a person who claims your computer is not secure and that you need to act now to fix the issue.
Be fraud-smart: Never give your personal information or credit card details over the phone. Never download software that you are not sure of.
“You’re at risk of being deported.”
A caller who claims to be an immigration department representative will ask you to send money immediately to avoid deportation.
Be fraud-smart: Government officials will never call and demand immediate payment over the phone or request the use of a money transfer service.
In short, be resourceful, stay educated and stop fraud. Do your research and check out the company that contacted you with trusted Government sources such as Law Enforcement or Consumer Affairs.
Over the last few years, the frequency of scams has increased, with many Australians over the age of 50 falling victim. In order to help combat this, the Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide is working with The Western Union Company in Australia to keep our readers informed on common frauds and to help avoid falling victim to scammers.