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NSW Crime Stoppers: Australians Losing Millions in Scams - And what you can do to help prevent it

Wednesday, 24 August 2022 09:40:35 AM

Australians have lost on average $41 million per month in scams in the first six months of 2022*. In the last year more than $2 billion in total combined losses were reported to ScamWatch, ReportCyber, 12 financial institutions and govt agencies**.

Phone calls and text messages are the most common method used by scammers. Phone calls accounted for 50% of all scams, while text messages accounted for 23%.

Scammers are finding new and smarter ways to steal people’s hard-earned money, so it can be difficult to know if a call is a scam or not and its causing financial devastation and emotional harm to individuals, families, and businesses.

Over 660 million scam calls have been blocked since the new rules requiring telcos to detect, trace and block scam calls was introduced in December 2020. New Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) data shows telcos blocked 110 million scam calls in April to June 2022 alone***.

Despite these promising signs, some scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated to trap people and avoid detection.

Crime Stoppers is working in collaboration with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to help raise awareness of these scams and prevent them where possible.

The new campaign leads with ‘consequence’ as a motivation and targets phone call and text scams warning Australians to ‘Say bye bye or kiss your cash goodbye’ and ‘think before you click’.

“Scammers use a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly and without thinking it through. This kind of tactic should be a red flag. The longer someone is on the phone with the scammer, the more information they extract. We strongly encourage people to say goodbye and hang up. Hanging up may be the difference between being scammed or keeping your cash,” said CEO, Crime Stoppers NSW, Mr Peter Price AM.

“Scammers are also using text messaging to gain access to personal information, passwords, and credit card details. If you receive a text message from an unknown number or entity, take the time to think before you click. Check if it looks legitimate, and if it doesn’t, delete it,” added Mr Price.

The ATO is seeing an increase in SMS scams this tax time, with many using the lure of a tax refund to trick people into clicking on a link.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh, said, “These links trick unsuspecting Australians into visiting fake websites aimed at stealing their personal information. Once a scammer has this information, they can do a lot of damage with it.”

“Our reminder is to guard your personal and financial information and always be careful about links and attachments, even if messages seem legitimate. The ATO will never send you an email or SMS with a link to log in to an online service.”

The ACCC advises if you think something might be legitimate, call the organisation or government agency back using details you find in an independent search, rather than the details provided by the caller. In addition, reporting the scam may help you and others. You can contact your financial institution or report it to Scamwatch at https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam and if you’re a victim of scam contact your financial institution immediately.

Importantly, share your knowledge with family and friends if you are aware of a scam. Awareness can help others avoid becoming a victim to scams.

NSW Crime Stoppers, the ATO and ACCC want to help the community reduce these numbers and protect people’s hard-earned money from criminals.

A fact sheet with advice on how to spot and deal with a phone scam is available at www.nsw.crimestoppers.com.au

What You Can Do

Phone Calls

Say bye bye or kiss your cash goodbye

*Scammers will often pretend to be from trusted organisations.

*If you think something might be legitimate, call the organisation or government agency back using details you find in an independent search, rather than the details provided by the caller.

*Don’t answer the phone if you are unsure who is calling. If the caller leaves a number, check it matches the one on the caller’s website.

*Scammers use a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly and without thinking. This should be a red flag and you should just hang up.

*If you get a phone call that doesn’t sound right, hang up. Check in with someone you trust, like a friend or family member, to talk about it.

*Don’t ever send money or provide payment details over the phone to someone you don’t know.

Text Messages

THINK before you CLICK

*Scammers are using applications via text that, once opened, can add malware to your phone and/or extract your personal details. If you receive a text message from an unknown number or entity think twice about responding.

*Stop and think before you click the link. Be careful about clicking on links and attachments, even if a message seems to come from a legitimate source or someone you know. It’s always safer to look something up or type in a web address yourself.

*If you suspect your phone has been infected with malware, back up your personal items only (such as photos, authenticators), and complete a factory reset on your device.

Helpful Links:

ACCC - Scamwatch to report or find out more about scams- https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam

ATO - ATO’s dedicated scam line 1800 008 540 to check legitimacy of a call, text, or email. You can also verify or report a scam online at ato.gov.au/scams

Crime Stoppers NSW - To report a crime or read the fact sheet with advice on how to spot and deal with a phone scam is available at www.nsw.crimestoppers.com.au