Scam Alert - Targeting the Over 50s
Age may make you wiser but it can also make you more vulnerable to the many digital traps which exist in the cyber world.
The ACCC says those aged over 65 are the most likely to fall victim to scams and the risk is rising.
Scam-related crimes have jumped 56% in the past two years and losses are estimated to be $532million through various tricks such as investment frauds and dating cons.
In fact, a survey conducted by Compare the Market adds one in four retirees have lost more than $1,000 via credit card fraud.
There’s an argument going on in Canberra to bring in more policy reforms around privacy, cyber-security, personal data and education campaigns to protect us consumers.
Here’s what you can do to ensure you and your loved ones don’t fall prey to online scammers:
Prevention is better than cure. Be very careful what personal data you share online such as birthdays and contact details, and caution of who you decide to do business with.
Investment scams, pyramid schemes, cryptocurrency cons and Facebook lottery scams use the internet as their hunting ground.
It’s simple to repeat the old cliché but “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”.
The ACCC’s deputy chair Delia Rickard warns, “it’s often our own self-confidence that we’d never fall for such obvious tricks which is targeted by the scammers”.
She says the con men and women have professionalised their operations and made their stings much more convincing.
“Our advice is to be wary of ads you see on the internet. Don’t be persuaded by celebrity endorsements or ‘not to be missed’ opportunities. You never know for certain who you’re dealing with or whether they’re credible,” Rickard said.
The increasing vulnerability of older Australians is partly due to the transition to the digital and cashless economy and also to the perception they are better off and hence more tempting targets.
Credit card use online and even the withdrawal of funds from an ATM all demand vigilance according to Rod Attrill, the money expert at comparethemarket.com.au.
“Identity theft is another common scam that is particularly prevalent for those wanting to regularly use card details. If you suspect your financial details were stolen, you should alert your bank immediately for a better chance at recovering your money,” he says.
Danger areas include phishing which means cold-calling , clicking on misleading links or using dodgy emails to get us to reveal personal information which can then be used to illicitly extract your funds.
Some of the ways scammers obtain personal or banking information includes:
- phishing emails and text messages which impersonate banks or utility providers seeking your login details
- fake online quizzes and surveys
- fake job advertisements
- remote access scams in which the scammer has direct access to everything on your computer
- sourcing information about you from social media platforms
- direct requests for scans of your driver’s license or passport, often in the course of a dating and romance scam.
We have been warned. Be very wary of cold calls from anyone claiming to be from the Tax Office or a bank or a telco. And while some of the scams seem laughable some of them do work given the way they are spread far and wide by the internet.
Any advice contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your particular objectives, personal circumstances or needs. If in doubt about your own situation you should seek appropriate advice.