Ever been caught by a scam or think you might have been the victim of one?
Have you ever received a fabulous offer out of the blue, a phone call offering a computer service, a threat to pay money that you do not owe, a warning from a bank, organisation or government department or even just a social invitation for friendship?
Scammers can target anyone; everyone is vulnerable and anyone can become a victim. Scammers use innovative technology, different products and services and relevant information to give the perception they are believable, trustworthy and genuine. They know your vulnerabilities and target these to get what they want – usually money. Unfortunately, many decent people hand over their money or personal details and become a victim of a scam.
Most scams follow a similar process.
Firstly, a scammer will contact you. This contact can be online through email, social network dating, shopping or auction sites; a call or text to your phone, or they may come straight to your door.
Once they have your attention scammers use a variety of methods to persuade you to do what they want. They can tell you convincing stories, use your emotions to generate fear, excitement, guilt or sympathy; demand action not giving you time to think, or use legitimate looking documents, websites or brochures.
Lastly scammers will influence you to send them money or release your personal or financial details. They may do this during the first contact or after months of communications. They may request payment in a variety of forms such as direct bank transfers, credit card payments, preloaded debit cards, gift cards or virtual currency.
The ACCC outlines some guidelines you can use to protect yourself:
- Be aware that scams exist
- Know who you are dealing with
- Do not open suspicious texts or emails – delete them
- Keep personal details secure
- Be aware of unusual payment methods
- Keep mobiles and computers secure
- Choose strong passwords or passphrases
- Beware of requests for financial details
You can find helpful information regarding common scams, how to protect yourself and where you can find help and support if you have been a victim of a scam on the Queensland Police website and the ACCC website.