Scamming perpetrators are becoming increasingly sophisticated when it comes to tricking people out of money, with even the most savvy people falling victim. Even if an email is sent to you by someone you know and trust, be wary of opening attachments or clicking links to websites. Keep your anti-virus and spyware software up to date, never give out your passwords or personal information to people you don’t know.
One scam that is doing the rounds involves you receiving an official looking email from your bank. It has all the colors and logos you would expect from your bank. It may even come from an email address with your bank’s name somehow included. It says something like, “Your account has been overdrawn by a debit in the amount of $7500.00. The large dollar amount has alerted our fraud detection department. Please log in immediately to verify the debit or to log a fraud claim.” Provided is a link to a mocked up website that again “borrows” your bank’s website appearance. In a panic, and wishing to quickly straighten out your account, you enter in your username and password and voila! The scammer has access to your accounts.
Another scam doing the rounds at the moment involves calling people to advise them they are owed several thousand dollars compensation for the new carbon tax. Criminals often use topical and familiar issues such as natural disasters or government programs to make their scams seem legitimate.
If you suspect a scam, here are a few tips to help you, and others, minimise the chances of further loss:
1. Contact Your Bank Immediately
As soon as you are aware of the scam, tell your bank. They may not be able to stop the transfers, but they can close your account to help stop further access to details and money.
2. Report The Scam And Stop The Spread
Help others from being affected by reporting the scam as soon as possible. Go to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s (ASIC) MoneySmart website www.moneysmart.gov.au. It has an information page listing different types of scams, and email addresses and phone numbers for reporting them.
3. Follow-Up Scams – Beware!
Scam victims are often targeted by perpetrators again with follow-up scams. Here are some examples to be wary of:
• Offers to swap investments so you can recover losses
• Offers to buy your shares at a premium if you pay a fee to have “restrictions” on the shares lifted
• Offers of assistance to locate the original scammer, provided you pay for travel and accommodation
• Any offers of assistance to recover your losses for a fee, which may be labelled as a tax, deposit, or even a refundable insurance bond.
Stay informed, and cease discussions or any other communication with anyone suspicious, and report the contact straight away.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has a website dedicated to scams, www.scamwatch.com.au. It will tell you how scams work, and what you can do about them, including stories of every day people affected.