Keep sneaky fraudsters away from your hard-earned cash! In 2014, Australian’s lost more than $80m to fraudulent schemes, and the total is already over the $50m mark in August 2015. With so many different schemes out there, and new ones being created everyday, it can be impossible to fully protect yourself without taking the appropriate precautions. If you think you’re too smart or aware to get swindled, think again! From impersonating trusted government bodies right through to grooming you with regular contact, it’s important to know what to watch out for so you don’t become another statistic.
This article is part 1 of our Scam Alert! series. See part 2 ‘Scam Alert! Protecting Yourself‘ for more information on guarding against scammers.
Detected a scam?
If you know of fraudulent activity or you are wary of a company offering you ‘a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’, report it to Scamwatch.
Advance Fee Fraud
The most commonly implemented scam throughout Australia is advance fee fraud. This is when a conman requests personal information or fees upfront in return for a service, but never delivers. Very common around tax time, these are often executed through mass email campaigns and will ask for a payment via international wire transfer.
Avoiding Advance Fee Fraud
- Don’t ever agree to upfront payment with strangers, particularly when it involves international wire transfers
- Record exact phrasing of the proposed service and type it into Google
- Don’t open suspicious emails or spam
Lottery & Competition Scams
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! If you haven’t entered into a competition or the lottery, but have somehow managed to win big, then it’s most likely a scam. The lottery and competition scams work by asking you to pay fees or taxes before they release your ‘winnings’, but never follow through once paid.
Protect Yourself From Lottery & Competition Scams
- Legally, if you haven’t entered into a lottery then you can’t win money
- Always be careful if you’re told to text a number starting with ’19’ as this is charged at a premium rate
Avoiding Romance & Emotional Scamming
When dating online you can be susceptible to heartless fraudsters who pull on your heart strings in order to gain your financial details. Scammers will create fake profiles on real dating sites and exploit you emotionally, before asking for your financial help. This grooming process can last months, or even years.
Protecting Yourself From Romance & Emotional Scamming
- Never send money or your personal details to an online companion
- Don’t arrange a meeting with an online companion if they ask for money beforehand
- Be very careful if they want to meet in person instantly or fall hard very quickly
Credit Card & Online Banking Scams
When it comes to banking and credit card scams, there’re two main types; phishing emails and card skimming. Phishing emails or SMS’ are used to gain your credit card details to make a number of hefty card-not-present payments. Card skimming occurs when thieves attach devices to ATMs and scan your magnetic strip, as well as installing cameras to capture your pin.
Avoid Credit Card & Online Banking Scams
- Check URLs when online banking—making sure they are relevant and secure
- Worried you have been defrauded? Contact your bank immediately!
Computers store a lot of personal information (both private and financial) that can be a gold mine for scammers. Just one click of a link on a phishing email and you could be installing malicious software that gives hackers access to all your files. Also, replica social networking sites can be used to gain your login details, so they can use your profile to gain money and details off your friends, family and followers.
Avoiding Computer Hacking
- Keep on top of your computer’s security with good firewalls and anti-virus software
- If you receive a call or email from a reputable company, check that these details match their official website
- Never open links or attachments from an unknown source
Other Common Scams To Watch Out For
- Online shopping—not getting what you paid for, or pretending to sell goods just to get your details
- Small business—false billing or business directories
- Investment or employment opportunity—pyramid schemes or business opportunities with upfront costs
- Charity—play on your goodwill to obtain money, also look out for miracle cures and weight loss techniques (acai berry scam)
Want more information? Here’s a scam guide to help with more information on some of the scams out there and how to protect yourself.
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