It’s Scam Awareness Week

No, it’s not a week where you have to rush out and stage a scam…Rather it’s a week we are all asked to think about ways we can protect ourselves against scammers who are on the march, in big numbers.

Scam alert
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website received almost 33,000 reports of threat-based impersonation scams in 2017.

Over $4.7 million was reported lost and more than 2800 people gave their personal information to scammers.

So, Queenslanders are being urged to Stop and check: is this for real?

Scammers are impersonating government officials, tax debt collectors, retail bargain dealers, banks and financial outlets, law practices, accountants, credit and debit card companies, phone and utility companies…Then there’s the dating site scams and so forth-It goes on and on….They operate on line, on phone and then some.

The Office of Fair Trading has also received reports of scammers pretending to be from well-known organisations such as Telstra, threatening to cancel services or charge a penalty fee if consumers don’t do what they ask.

The best advice, experts tell us-Anyone receiving this type of call or email should always stop and independently confirm whether it is a legitimate request before handing over money or information.

Remember – Government agencies and reputable businesses will never make such threats.

If anyone receives an unexpected and threatening call or email, they should follow these tips:

• Always ask yourself whether the person or business that’s contacted you out of the blue is who they say they are.
• Verify the identity of the contact through an independent source, such as a phone book or online search, then get in touch with them to ask if they contacted you. Never use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message or email.
• Never send money, give your banking or credit card details or other personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust.
• Know that a government agency or legitimate business will never ask you to pay them with gift or store cards, iTunes cards, wire transfers or bitcoin.
• Never click on links in emails and never give anyone remote access to your computer if they’ve contacted you out of the blue—whether through a phone call, pop up window or email.

For more information about scams, where to get help or to report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website www.scamwatch.gov.au or call 13 74 68 (13 QGOV).