In these past few weeks I have been called a number of times on my business line by the solar rebate scammers and also threatened by the rather aggressive tax scammers (multiple times). Returning from my lunch break the other day I received my second aggressive voice mail from a gentleman allegedly calling from the ATO threatening me with jail as they had “a petition….” from “the Queen….” for “tax evasion” and I was being “charges (sic) with offences.” The voice mail was delivered in very poor english and he was very angry so it was difficult to understand the message.
My hotmail junk folder is littered with scams, potential malware and phishing emails. I joked with my mum years ago that I thought she was lying to me about our heritage. According to my junk email I have a ridiculous number of family members overseas who are apparently passing away at a very rapid rate and leaving me with “much wealth.” It appears that so far this year my alleged many relatives who live overseas are all in good health as I haven’t seen any inheritance emails come through…yet.
I feel very fortunate to have not sustained any financial loss as a result of scams. The number of scams and the financial impact that they have had in Australia alone is alarming. The 2016 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) published statistics (as of today’s date) is that there has been 108,348 scams reported and so far a loss of $54,847,503.00 just in Australia…for this year!
The top three scams for financial loss in 2016 are; dating and romance, investment schemes and upfront payment and advance fee frauds. The top three reported scams are; phishing, upfront payment and advance fee frauds and identity theft. The top three delivery methods of these scams are respectively; phone, internet and email.
The latest scam alerts from the ACCC include scammers posing as the Reserve Bank of Australia, travel scratchie scams and binary option scams.
In addition to the solar rebate and tax scam calls listed above, below are just a couple of examples of the scams I have received this year;
Alleged bank calling
I have found these callers to be well researched. They call me on my mobile under a private number. As a precaution I don’t give out personal information over the phone as a general rule. I ask for their name and contact details to call them back. Generally at this point they hang up. Some are a bit more hardcore and have tried to talk me around (without success).
If they have provided me with a name and number I then call my bank’s official number, not the one they gave me. I may be somewhat paranoid, however I also call back on a different phone in case they have that tricky telephone system where they stay on the line and pretend to dial out.
My ever popular hotmail junk mail has received emails from people purporting to be paypal, itunes, woolworths and bunnings. Effectively, most of these types of emails are attempting to get the recipient to open links or attachments in order to provide them with either your personal details, bank account, user name and/or password information.
A bit of thought has generally gone into these scams with attention to detail in the fonts and logo’s, some even have the correct name and address. A general give away of what I call the “the lazy email scammers” is that their email is;
- often written with poor english language in the content; “We face a problem in the ratification of the real owner of the account . And for that you must follow the following steps :”
- by hovering over the link in the email (without clicking!) you can often reveal a diversion to another website;
- they have generic greetings, not user specific; and of course
- amazing offers that are too good to be true.
Do not engage in contact! Delete, delete, delete!
There are so many different scams currently in circulation. It’s disappointing, but unfortunately it has become a reality for those that use technology. If in doubt about a situation, obtain advice from a professional regarding the potential scam. The ACCC’s Scamwatch website provides guidance on protecting yourself from scams and where to get help. They also provide updates on new scams (that they are aware of). If you are the recipient of a scam, report it to Scamwatch so others can be made aware of the scam. Visit the ACCC’s Scamwatch website here.
This article provides brief general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Should you have a legal question or situation, you should engage the services of a lawyer to provide you with advice specific to your circumstances.