How can we protect ourselves and our older loved ones from scams? Learn important strategies, and also the most common scam types in Australia currently.
Unfortunately, scams have become a worryingly frequent part of communication these days. Once your phone number, email address or home address is known to scammers, they will regularly use your contact details to attempt to catch you unawares and lure you into their disguised traps of criminal deception. This can happen multiple times a week, or even daily for some, which shows us how vigilant we need to be.
People are wisely asking how to protect themselves and their older loved ones from the growing number of scams. Here, we take you through some of the best strategies to avoid scammers’ increasingly cunning traps. We also look at what the most prevalent scams are, and consider whether older people are being targeted more than people in other ages and stages of life.
Important things you can do to help
According to integratedliving’s Head of Digital Transformation, Norvan Vogt, there are a number of important things you can do to help avoid the loss and heartache of a scam. These include:
- Hang up on suspicious phone calls, even if they say they are from big companies. Call the company back using a number from a trusted source, such as the phone book or the company’s website.
- Never share passwords or personal information. Anyone who asks you for your password is probably scamming you. So too, anyone asking for your bank details or other personal information.
- Be sceptical when reviewing email attachments, links and suspicious text messages. If you’re in any doubt, delete the message and block the number that sent it to you. You can also take a screenshot of the message before you delete it for your records.
- Use up-to-date anti-virus software to protect your computer. You can find more information about this at scamwatch.gov.au.
- Don’t send money or personal information to people from unusual locations, or reveal your bank details.
Other important recommendations are:
- Use two-factor authentication on your accounts. This makes them harder for others to access.
- Check the email address – don’t trust emails that don’t include the company name or include it in an unusual way (such as in the name).
- When internet shopping, make sure the URL starts with ‘https’ and that there is a padlock icon in the address bar. Also look for a trust seal.
- When shopping online, be wary of offers that sound too good to be true. Check independent reviews of the site or sellers to find out what experiences others have had with them.
And one more specifically for family members wanting to protect senior loved ones from scams. “Make it a regular topic of conversation so that older people are not scared of discussing scams,” Norvan said. “This will also keep them – and you – open to understanding what a scam is and how to prevent it.”
Most prevalent scams in Australia today
It is helpful to know more about what it is we’re dealing with so we know what we want to avoid. Scamwatch, run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), tells us that Australians lose hundreds of millions of dollars to the following types of scams annually:
- $177 million: Investment scams
- $56 million: Dating and romance scams
- $17 million: False billing
- $16 million: Remote access scams
- $11 million: Threats to life, arrest or other
- $10 million Identity theft
- $8 million: Online shopping scams
- $7 million: Classified scams
- $4 million: Phishing scams
- $3 million: Lost to hacking
It also shows that losses have increased by a whopping 84 per cent since 2019, from $143 million to $324 million. The average loss incurred per person or business was $12,742.
Scamwatch also revealed that these losses are primarily reported by people aged 65 and over (27.3%), while people aged 18-24 reported the lowest number of losses (4.3%).
“Older persons are not specifically targeted by scammers,” Norvan said. “But they do report more scams overall as they are more diligent in reporting all untoward incidents.”
Scams to look out for currently are those pretending to be:
- Australia Post or other delivery couriers
- Road toll providers saying you have unpaid tolls and will be fined if left unpaid
- Those written as if from your child: ‘Hi mum’ or ‘Hi dad, I’ve lost my phone… call me on this number…’
- Online shopping ones from supposedly popular providers such as Amazon
- Romance scams
When in doubt, do not respond. Always verify sources, including hanging up on callers to do so, and don’t engage with anything or anyone vaguely suspicious or doubtful. Remember the first important step is to remember that scams are out there and increasingly common.
integratedliving’s Digital Dialogue program includes specific training on how to avoid scams, among many other important areas to increase your technological ability and allow you to connect digitally with ease. To claim your spot in this excellent program, call our Customer Service Team on 1300 782 896.
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