National scams awareness week 2018
Ever gotten a threatening phone call that didn’t seem quite right? You’re not alone. Find out more about threatening scams in National Scams Awareness Week #Isthisforreal
It’s rare to find someone who hasn’t received a scam call or email. Scammers are more tactical with online personal data than ever before, with 16,770 reports of attempts to gain personal information in 2018 alone. These security breaches can cost people their savings, privacy and personal safety.
This year’s National Scam Awareness Week focuses on threat-based impersonation scams. These come in many forms, but the methodology remains the same. The target of the scam will be contacted by someone who claims to be a representative of a company the target is familiar with, such as a phone company or tax office.
Falling for these trickers is more commonplace than you would imagine. It’s typical to hear stories from people who have been scammed such as “…he knew my name, address, tax file number… I believed him.” or that “…they said my house was under surveillance.”
The scammer will then detail how the target owes a large sum of money and failure to pay will result in severe criminal punishment or fines. There have been cases where people said that the scammers threatened that “…if I don’t pay in the next 10 minutes, legal action will occur.” or “… I am sure that he said, ‘we will kill you’.” Obviously, this would be alarming news to anyone, and scammers are relying on people not verifying the facts before handing over money or information.
- 33,000 threat-based scams reported
- Over $4.7 million reported lost
- People aged 65+ have the most reports and the highest losses
- Scam contact method – 16% email vs. 84% phone call
- 35% of scammers claim to be from Telstra, while 22% claim they are from the Australian Tax Office
How you can protect yourself
Protecting yourself is easy. If at any time you feel the person contacting you is not on the level, simply hang up the call or delete the email. Organisations such as the ATO or Telstra will not contact people directly in such a fashion, instead relying on mail, and you can call them directly to confirm the matter. The ATO recommend that you call 1800 008 540 to verify contact enquiries. Do not reveal personal information such as bank account or credit card details even if they claim they want to know for security purposes or the matter is urgent.
If you or someone you know feels like they have been scammed, contact the police and your bank or credit card provider as soon as possible. SCAMwatch is another great resource for scam monitoring or consumer fraud activities. And remember to tell your friends to keep looking out for potential scams in emails or over the phone.