New and convincing scams are invented constantly with the aim of luring people into providing money or personal identity details. They can be in the form of an email, pop up, use message services – social media or texts or phone calls.
Do your research through independent and verified means to confirm who you are actually dealing with. Never provide personal information to people you don’t know and look out for others around you who are more vulnerable in the community, such as children and the elderly. Protect your devices by installing up to date anti-virus software and ensure passwords are never provided to others.
Some common features of scams include:
- Threats and extortion from scammers pretending to be from government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink, Office of Fair Trading and debt collection agencies. These can involve persistent calls with aggressive and persuasive tactics to obtain money. Legitimate agencies will never request that you deposit money into other personal bank accounts or purchase Western Union money orders, iTunes cards in order to repay a debt. Always contact the agency direct for advice – do not use the contact details supplied by the suspected scammer.
- Unexpected winnings in lotteries, promises of employment such as working from home for fast ways to make money, fake charities and investment schemes.
- Identity thieves will use varying tactics such as impersonating government agencies, financial institutions even making threats of police action or debt collection in order to obtain your personal details leading to other fraudulent activities such as taking out credit cards, bank accounts or loans in your name.
- Romance scams take advantage of vulnerable people looking for romantic partners. Often it begins with innocent communication and quickly turns to requests for financial assistance for reasons such as illness in the family, medical bills or plane tickets.
If you have received money from a scam or been asked to transfer money to someone you do not know – notify your bank or financial institution immediately. Participating in these types of transactions may constitute offences such as money laundering.
If you are a victim of a scam you can lodge a report by visiting www.cyber.gov.au/report