We’re all spending more time at home and online at the moment, which can leave us open to more opportunities to encounter and fall victim to a scam. Staying safe means staying up-to-date with how scammers are changing their tactics and adapting them to the current environment.
Watch out for phishing emails
We’re interacting with organisations online more than ever before, as businesses and Government agencies keep us updated on how our society is changing and their services are adapting.
With an increase in incoming communications, it’s important to remember to be cautious about clicking links in emails and opening attachments. Scammers frequently send spoof emails which look real, but which aim to steal your valuable personal information by tricking you into entering your secure information into a fake website.
If you receive an email from any organisation, it’s always safest to go directly to their website from your web browser and log in from there, rather than clicking a link.
Find out more about how to keep your personal information safe on our Attempts to Gain Personal Information webpage.
Be wary of ATO-related telephone scams
Tax time typically sees an increase in the number of scams, and with changes to many peoples’ personal and financial circumstances, there are plenty of opportunities for scammers to take advantage of peoples’ uncertainty.
The ATO has received reports of scammers sending members of the public automated phone calls pretending to be from the ATO, Services Australia and the Department of Legal Services claiming that their TFN has been suspended and that there is a legal case against them.
The call tells people they must contact the caller by pressing '1' or they will be referred to the court and arrested, and then asks them to provide private financial information.
If you receive this call, hang up and do not provide the information requested. The ATO or other Government agencies will never send unsolicited pre-recorded voicemails or threaten you with immediate arrest.
Learn more about identifying extortion attempts on our Threats and Extortion webpage.
Don’t fall for investment scams
The prospect of an investment with high returns and low risk can be tempting, As people seek alternate means to generate an income particularly if your personal circumstances have been negatively affected by the current situation.
Investment scams are the most common scam reported to the ACCC, often beginning with a cold-call offering an opportunity ‘not available’ to the general public.
The type of investment offered varies – it could be shares, real estate, virtual currency, option trading, or foreign currency trading. The scammers can be very convincing and may position the opportunity as low risk, with the ability to sell anytime or get a refund for non-performance. These scams are often accompanied by polished marketing materials and can feel like a legitimate opportunity.
Be cautious. As with many frauds and scams, if the offer seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
If the person providing the offer does not have an Australian financial services licence (AFSL), calls you repeatedly, or says you need to make a quick decision to avoid missing out the investment offer may well be a scam. If you spot any of these signs, hang up the phone and end the conversation.
Find out more about how to stay safe from these types of scams on our Investment Scams webpage.
Stay safe from Superannuation scams
The ability to access superannuation early through the Financial Hardship scheme has put some people firmly in the sights of scammers. In May 2020, the Federal Police put a temporary halt on the scheme as they investigated nearly 150 fraudulent withdrawals.
Scammers typically cold-call people and claim to be from organisations that can help them gain early access to their super or offering to check whether they are eligible.
Be wary of any inbound caller who wants to talk to you about your super. If you want to discuss your super, contact your provider directly using the details on their website.
If you think you may have provided information about your superannuation to a scammer, immediately contact your superannuation provider and let them know.
Be careful of romance scams
Spending more time at home has meant that more people are turning to online dating and other social platforms to find a personal connection. Unfortunately, the person behind the profile isn’t always who they say they are and dating apps are a frequent hunting ground for scammers who try to build an emotional connection with their victims and then request money.
The scams aren’t just limited to traditional dating sites and apps – ACCC’s Scamwatch reports that the highest losses were from romance scams originating on Instagram and Facebook, with social mobile games like Words with Friends also used.
The key to staying safe is to never give out personal or financial information to anyone you haven’t met in person, no matter who they say they are or how strongly you feel for them.
Visit our Dating and Relationship Scams webpage to learn more about how to protect yourself.
Avoid ’lockdown puppies’ scams
Lockdown has meant that more people than ever have been looking for companionship in the form of a pet, with a new puppy being a popular way to beat the lockdown blues. Unfortunately, the rise in demand for four-legged friends has also seen a rise in puppy-related scams, with unscrupulous classifieds sellers taking money for dogs that don’t exist. Scamwatch has reported that April 2020 saw a 500% increase in the number of dog-related scams reported when compared to a typical month in 2019, with popular breeds like Cavoodles and French Bulldogs most likely to feature.
If you are considering buying a pet online, it’s a good idea to conduct a reverse image search of the pictures used in the ads and paste the wording from the ad into a search engine to check whether they have been used elsewhere. If they have, it may be warning sign that something is wrong.
Find out more about common scams visit our Buying and Selling Scams webpage.
These six scams are some of the most common that are currently being reported, but scammers tactics are constantly evolving. Keep an eye on our Facebook page to stay informed of the latest scams.
If you have been targeted by a scam relating to your Qudos account, forward the hoax email or scam details to email@example.com, or contact us on 1300 747 747 (Mon-Fri 7am-7pm and Sat 9am-5pm).
Published August 2020