Be on guard to avoid scam­mers’ traps

Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood

Email, the in­ter­net, so­cial me­dia and mo­bile apps are all com­mon ways for scam­mers to con­tact po­ten­tial vic­tims so con­sumers need to re­main alert to po­ten­tial scams.

Dur­ing Stay Smart On­line week last month, the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion re­leased fig­ures show­ing its na­tional Scamwatch site had re­ceived more than 51,000 re­ports this year about scam­mers try­ing to con peo­ple on­line.

Those on­line scam losses to­talled nearly $37 mil­lion, with peo­ple aged 45-54 most likely to lose money. How­ever, con­sumers need to stay vig­i­lant about any deals that seem too good to be true, whether on­line or else­where. We re­cently alerted house­hold­ers to glossy travel brochures with fake scratchies that were ar­riv­ing in mail­boxes, with at least one of the two cards en­closed declar­ing a $US190,000 win.

The Get It On Hol­i­day travel brochure and scratchie cards scam has been de­signed to gain per­sonal in­for­ma­tion from the sup­posed “win­ners”, who would then be asked to pay fees up­front be­fore re­ceiv­ing their non-ex­is­tent prize.

The top five scams re­ported to WA ScamNet from Jan­uary 1June 30, 2017 were:

Tech­nol­ogy phish­ing, where con­sumers were con­tacted, mostly via email, by some­one claim­ing to be from a le­git­i­mate busi­ness seek­ing pay­ment, or to gain per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

Phish­ing also in­cluded con­sumers be­ing con­tacted via a pop-up on their com­put­ers stat­ing their de­vice had a virus, and to get rid of the virus the vic­tim must give re­mote ac­cess and pay for the clean-up.

Buy­ing and sell­ing on­line, in­clud­ing con­sumers buy­ing prod­ucts on fake web­sites.

Re­la­tion­ship scams, of­ten via dat­ing web­sites, apps or so­cial me­dia, with peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be prospec­tive com­pan­ions. They play on emo­tional trig­gers to get money, gifts or per­sonal de­tails.

In­vest­ment scams, such as con­sumers sign­ing up for in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties where they were later un­able to with­draw their in­vested amounts.

Fake in­voic­ing, with con­sumers re­ceiv­ing fake bills (usu­ally via email) and then pay­ing them be­cause they be­lieved they had come from a le­git­i­mate en­tity.

So how can we avoid the scam­mers?

Keep per­sonal in­for­ma­tion se­cure on­line by chang­ing pass­words of­ten, don’t give credit card de­tails to web­sites that aren’t se­cure and do not send copies of pass­ports or driv­ers li­cences to third par­ties you did not con­tact your­self. Do not send money via bank trans­fer to some­one you do not know.

In­stead pay via credit card or PayPal be­cause there is a chance of money re­cov­ery.

If you have given out per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, then con­tact ID Care at id­, a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that helps vic­tims who have fallen vic­tim to iden­tity theft.

If you have sent in­for­ma­tion about your bank ac­counts, con­tact your bank im­me­di­ately.

They can change pass­words and close the ac­counts if nec­es­sary.

Lastly, never re­spond to out-of-the-blue friend­ship re­quests on­line from strangers.

Call WA ScamNet on 1300 304 054.

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