Watch out for scams
02 October 23
Financial scams are on the rise. Records show that in the year 2021, Australians lost a record total of more than $2 billion to scams which was a huge increase over the preceding 12 months.
Officials say this should sound a warning to all people to be especially careful with their money, particularly with Christmas and holidays approaching and a desire to spend on gifts and travel.
Repeated warnings about the need to check all financial dealings and more intelligence available is making Australians more aware, forcing scammers to become more creative which makes it imperative for people to stay vigilant and be more protective.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report said that investment scams registered the highest loss category with a total of $701 million gone in 2021. This was followed by payment redirection scams valued at $227 million and dating and romance scams at $142 million.
Investment scams include the lure of high and quick returns with zero to low risk, payment redirection impersonates a business or its employees via email while in romance social media and apps have become effective tools for scammers to target unsuspecting users looking for relationships.
It is hard to believe that scams are still so prevalent in today’s world when there are many methods of protecting your money, whether it involves your bank, credit card or investments. There is an old saying that rules are meant to be broken and this is frequently proved by the hi-tech scammers of our present electronic world.
Personal data is mostly used by scammers to steal identities, open loans and to steal or launder money. There are frequent warnings from banks and similar organisations to watch for any unusual activity in your account as scammers also use the spread of Covid- 19 to take advantage of people who have let their guard down.
Do not provide any personal, banking, superannuation or investment details or access to your computer to anyone. Scammers often pretend they have a connection with their intended victim which makes it even more important to double check, even if you are approached by what you believe is a trusted organisation. Banks and others do not object to your request for a check as it is also to their advantage to keep personal information safe.
Always be on the watch for people who try to make unauthorised transactions on your account. They commonly gain your personal information by posing as another person or business and by stealing your passwords. This can be done by SMS, email phishing or telephone scams.
How do you keep your accounts safe?
- Memorise your codes and delete or destroy any record of them.
- Secure your letterbox if you are waiting for a card by mail.
- Don’t tell anyone your PIN or password, including family, friends or anyone claiming they are from a bank.
- Don’t choose any password or PIN which can be easily guessed, such as a birthday, name, phone number or numbers which form a pattern.
- Keep your cards and devices safe, take extra care if you have an online wallet or mobile banking application.
- Activate and set a PIN on your card as soon as you receive it.
- Regularly check your card is still in your possession. So many people have had a card slip from their pocket on a train or bus.
- Cancel, cut up and securely dispose of any card you no longer use.
- Don’t let anyone else register their thumbprint or other biometrics on your device.
- Don’t leave your card unattended when you are in public, including at wor
What to do if you think there is a suspicious activity?
Double check the transaction was not made by you or an authorised person on the account and document the transaction. Contact the merchant who charged you (most disputes can be quickly solved that way) and notify your bank or financial organisation. It is also recommended that if you come across any suspicious activity you should notify the ACCC Scamwatch website (www.scamwatch.gov.au) to help resolve the issue.
Remember – be aware, take care.
By RW Bro Ted Simmons OAM - December 22 Freemason Magazine