Be on guard to avoid scammers’ traps
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 idcare.org, 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.