They say a fool and their money are easily parted. But with how sophisticated scams are becoming nowadays, it’s no longer just fools who are being duped. Here’s how to spot a scam in the digital day and age.
Australians lost $91 million to scammers last year alone. That’s about $250,000 every day.
With Scams Awareness Week running from May 21-25, now’s a better time than ever to look at some of the more sophisticated scams that are parting Australians with their hard earned money.
There is no shortage of scammers out there offering fake loans, especially in Australia where people are just itching to crack into the property market.
In recent years scammers have got this down to a fine art – victims are provided with authentic-looking fake loan contracts with Australian credit licence numbers belonging to unrelated businesses.
Scammers also pretend they’re in Australia with re-routed phone numbers.
They then tell the victims they must pay insurance or fees of up to $5400 upfront into an Australian bank account.
However, legitimate lenders who are authorised under Australian credit laws will generally not request that fees are paid upfront because establishment costs are usually included in the loan and repaid over time.
So, if you ever receive a call or email along these lines, take it with a very large grain of salt.
Better yet, ask us to look into it. We’ll be able to tell if it’s a legitimate looking loan or not.
Remote access scams
This involves scammers trying to convince you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem.
The scammer will usually phone you and pretend to be a staff member from Telstra, the NBN or Microsoft. The caller is usually very persistent and may become abusive.
If you receive one of these calls simply hang up. Companies such as Telstra and the NBN don’t request credit card details over the phone to fix computer or telephone problems.
Identity thieves are after anything that contains your personal information. And not just through tech-savvy hacking. One of the most common gateways to identity theft is mail theft.
Here are five simple ways you can prevent identity theft:
1. Don’t take the bait. Scam artists ‘phish’ for victims by pretending to be reputable businesses or government agencies. Never give out personal information if you did not initiate contact.
2. Be mysterious. Don’t overshare personal information on social media.
3. Don’t use simple passwords. Use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
4. Shop with caution. Check out a website before entering your credit card and personal information.
5. Pay attention to your statements. If bills stop arriving in the mail, call your bank – someone may have changed your contact information to cover their tracks.
Threats to life, arrest or other
Threats to life, arrest or other ultimatums usually involve the scammer demanding you to pay money that you supposedly owe, and threatening you if you don’t comply.
And there’s been a large spike in the amount of money scammed in recent months according to Scamwatch.
Scammers often impersonate government officials and target the elderly and newly arrived migrants.
If someone targets you with this scam, the government’s Scamwatch website advises that you do not respond to texts or emails. The scammers will only escalate their intimidation and attempts to get your money.
If you receive a phone call from someone threatening you and asking you to pay a fee, simply hang up and don’t respond.
And of course, if you’re worried about your safety, contact the police.
Scammers often use psychological tricks to part with your money. Some may offer you a gift or help so that you feel obligated to return the favour.
They also know that most people find it hard to say no to friends, so they’ll try and build a strong rapport with you.
If you ever have suspicions that you’re getting scammed, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d be more than happy to look into the situation to help you protect your wealth.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.
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