Scamwatch is warning that scams cost Australian consumers, businesses and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each year and cause serious emotional harm to victims and their families.
Cryptocurrency scams are the most ‘popular’ type of investment scams, representing over 50% of losses. Often the initial investment amount is low (between $250 and $500), but the scammers pressure the person to invest more over time before claiming the money is gone or ceasing communication and blocking access to the funds.
All age groups are losing money to investment scams, but the over-65s have lost the most, with $24 million lost this year.
Some simple steps individuals can take to protect themselves (and their businesses) are:
- Never give any personal information to someone who has contacted you.
- Hang up and verify the identity of the person contacting you by calling the relevant organisation directly — find them through an independent source such as a phone book, past bill or online search.
- Do not click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if it appears to come from a trusted source.
- Go directly to a website through a browser (e.g., to reach the MyGov website, type ‘my.gov.au’ into the browser).
- Search for reviews before purchasing from unfamiliar online traders.
- Be wary of sellers requesting unusual payment methods.
- Verify any request to change bank details by contacting the supplier directly.
- Consider a multi-factor approval process for transactions over a certain dollar amount.
- Never provide a stranger remote access to your computer, even if they claim to be from a telco company such as Telstra.
Editor: Feel free to contact our office if you need any help at all with this or anything else.