SCAMS - Keeping Yourself Protected

From chain letters, to spam emails, and now text and WhatsApp messages, everyday Australians are bombarded with tricks to separate them from their hard-earned money.

Keeping yourself protected means knowing what scams are currently doing the rounds, so you don’t fall victim to them. Here are some of the most common types of scams currently targeting Australians…

SCAM #1 – “Hey Mum” WhatsApp

Over the past year, Australians have been receiving out-of-the-blue messages, apparently from their adult children, asking for money. Beginning with “Hey Mum”, they target senior Australians, preying on the love of a parent for a child.

The message continues on to say that they have broken or misplaced their phone and this is their new number.Recipients are then asked to transfer money to a specific bank account, often being needed to pay off a bill or unexpected charge. Generic replies attempt to convince the parent that it is one of their children, though the messages quickly escalate, with the ‘child’ saying they need the money urgently. This, of course, makes the parents anxious and can cause them to forget all they know about scams.

HOW TO AVOID: If you find yourself receiving a message like this, it is often best to simply delete it. If you are worried that it is actually one of your children needing to contact you, call the current phone number you have for them. This will often prove that their phone has not been broken or misplaced, and you can then block the new number. Never send money to an account you do not know.

SCAM #2 – Celebrity Endorsements

The last few years have seen a massive rise in crypto-currency and investment scams. Often, these will feature celebrity endorsements in an attempt to legitimise the company. Celebrity names such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and even our very own David ‘Kochie’ Koch, have seen their image used to promote these schemes. ‘Evidence’ provided by the company can include fake news articles, social media profiles, and testimonials.

Once the victim has sent through the money, contact will suddenly cease, with emails often bouncing back from accounts that are no longer in service. As you have willingly transferred the money to another account, there is generally nothing a bank can do to reclaim your loss, and the scammers move on to their next target.

HOW TO AVOID: While the internet can bring scammers directly to you, it can also be what saves you from becoming a victim. Avoid falling for these scams by doing your research. Talk to an investment broker in person instead of transferring money to an unknown account. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is.

SCAM #3 – Tech Support

This scam can begin with a fake pop-up window, a phone call, or an email, with the scammer impersonating legitimate tech companies or service providers. Usually, the victim will be told that their computer has been hacked or is vulnerable, with the scammer offering to help secure it.

Once contact has been made, victims are tricked into paying for unnecessary or fake services. From scare tactics to persuasion, the victims send information to the scammer, allowing them access to their computer in order to ‘solve’ the problem, only creating a bigger one. With their files and private information turned over, the victims are vulnerable to financial losses, identity theft, and compromised privacy.

HOW TO AVOID: Never give anyone remote access to your computer. Legitimate companies will never ask for this. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or pop-up messages, and always research a company before using its services.

These are just a few of the scams currently targeting senior Australians. The best way to keep yourself safe is to always do your research, and take your time – no legitimate company will force you to make a decision on the spot. If you suspect you have been scammed, contact your bank and the police immediately.

Stay vigilant and keep yourself protected.

Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide

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