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Australians urged to be scam smart

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Australia’s customer owned banking institutions are urging Australians to be scam smart as scammers ramp up activity in Australia.

Figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reveal the extent of the criminal activity, with a more than 900 per cent increase in scam activity where criminals pretending to be from the Australian Tax Office.

To help combat the rise in scam activity, the Customer Owned Banking Association has prepared five tips for consumers to avoid fraudsters.

  1. Don’t assume that an Australian phone number means the call is legitimate. Offshore scammers use programs to change their international number to look like a local one to convince people the call is legitimate.
  2. Don’t become panicked or flustered. These scams rely on people worrying that they will be charged a fee or lose access to a service if they don’t hand over information or money.
  3. Question whether the organisation they claim to represent would actually call and threaten you. Government departments, utility providers and law enforcement all follow due process. Phone calls that carry threats of hefty fines or imprisonment or ask you for immediate payment in Gift Cards or sending money overseas are not genuine.
  4. Never give a stranger remote access to your devices. Scammers claiming to be from utility providers will often ask you to allow them access to your computer or device. This gives them access to all your private information and your financial details.
  5. Hang up the phone. As soon as you suspect it’s a scammer on the line- hang up the phone.

The Customer Owned Banking Association’s Director of Services and Financial Crimes, Leanne Vale, said vigilance was crucial to thwart scammers from taking your details.

“Scammers prey on people’s fear and panic. They try to convince you that you’ll either be cut off from a service like the internet or rounded up in a paddy wagon for failing to pay an imaginary fine.

“Sadly, the people who are most vulnerable to these scammers are the elderly.

“Older Australians should feel comfortable questioning any unsolicited phone calls. If you don’t know the caller and feel they are asking for personal information, just hang up straight away. Be sceptical these fraudsters are convincing and can also be abusive.

“You wouldn’t let a stranger into your house, or your car so don’t let strangers on the phone access your device. You’ve worked hard all your life for your savings don’t give it to these heartless thieves.

“By being scam aware Australians can save themselves from a lot of heartache and stress.

“If in doubt, hang up the phone and visit scamwatch.org.au for more information.”

A PDF version of the media release is available here

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Mick Gibb
Corporate Affairs Manager
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M: +61 423 149 494
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