Be yourself. Don’t let a scammer be you. Scams Awareness Week 2020
Scams cost Australians, businesses and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each year and cause serious emotional harm to victims and their families.
In 2019, Australians made more than 167,000 scam reports to ACCC’s Scamwatch, and reported a total loss of more than $142.9 million, a 34 per cent increase in losses from 2018.
The impact of identity theft
Scams are constantly evolving and our growing use and reliance on technology provides scammers more opportunities to trick people into giving away their valuable personal information. Scammers use personal information to steal identities for personal and financial gain.
Lost personal information also leaves victims more susceptible to future scams. Stolen personal information is often sold illegally and scammers will use data they have on a victim to seem more convincing in cold calls.
With your personal information, scammers can:
- access and drain your bank account
- open new bank accounts in your name and take out loans or lines of credit
- take out phone plans and other contracts
- purchase expensive goods in your name
- steal your superannuation
- gain access to your government online services
- access your email to find more sensitive information
- access your social media accounts and impersonate you to scam your family and friends.
Your personal information is valuable. You have a lot to lose – and not only money. Once lost, it can take years to recover your identity. But there are some simple ways you can protect yourself.
Do your own research to independently verify if someone is who they claim to be.
- If you receive a phone call from someone you suspect is a scammer, hang up, find the organisation’s number yourself and call them back. Never use a number they give you.
- Don’t trust a site or an ad just because it’s advertised on social media or classified website, or claims it’s endorsed by a celebrity. Check independent reviews and be wary of offers too good to be true.
Be suspicious of emails and messages asking for your personal information, even if they seem to be from a trusted source.
- Watch out for telltale signs of a scam in unsolicited emails and messages, like not using your correct name, typos and grammatical errors, or suspicious web addresses.
- Don’t click on links in unexpected emails or messages, even if it appears to have come from a legitimate source.
Don’t share personal information online with someone you’ve never met in person.
- Don’t give financial or account details, or copies of your identity documents to someone online who you’ve never met in person.
- Never give strangers remote access to your computer.
- Limit what personal information you share about yourself online, including on social media.
- Use strong passwords for your accounts and internet network, and never share them with others.
Use tools that help you check and protect your online security.
- IDcare’s free Cyber First Aid Kit can help you work out what to do if you think you’ve been scammed.
- Check your credit report for free using a reputable credit reference bureau at least once every year – this can help you catch any unauthorised activity.
- Install anti-virus software on your devices and keep it up to date.
Find out more about how to detect and protect yourself from identity theft.
Where to seek help
If you’ve lost money or given personal information to a scammer, there are steps you can take to limit the damage and protect yourself from further loss.
- If you’ve sent money or shared your banking or credit card details, contact your financial institution immediately.
- If the scam occurred on social media or a legitimate website, report it to the platform involved. For scams on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, see this step-by-step guide for reporting scams on Facebook services.
- If you’ve given your personal information to a scammer, visit IDCARE – Australia and New Zealand’s not-for-profit national identity and cyber support service. IDCARE can work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you through the process.
- Obtain a credit report from a reputable credit reference bureau. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has a list on its website. A credit reporting body must give you access to your consumer credit report for free once every 12 months.
- Awareness is our best defence against scams – take the time to warn your friends and family about scams.
- For more information or to report a scam visit Scamwatch.
- To keep up-to-date on scams, subscribe to Scamwatch email alerts and follow @Scamwatch_gov Twitter.