The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Targeting Scams Report reports over 90,000 Australians complained about scams that cost them in excess of $80 million.
In 2014, online dating scams remained the number one scam for financial losses with almost $28 million reported lost. This was despite these scams making up only three percent of all scam reports. Clearly, the bad guys see people in personal distress as a lucrative target.
The next highest reported losses were investment fraud and computer prediction software scams, both of which are often dressed up as legitimate investment opportunities. These two scams accounted for 26 percent of reported losses and over $21 million lost.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard says, “Increasingly, scammers are using personal information gleaned from social media profiles to target victims for a fraudulent relationship or investment. Scammers are constantly ‘phishing’ for your personal details such as your name, address and birthdate and this will only increase to as your personal data becomes more valuable to them.”
The ACCC offers the following tips:
1 Keep your personal details secure: Lock your mailbox, and shred your bills and other important documents before throwing out. Be careful sharing information about yourself online, including social media, blogs and other online forums.
2 Think twice about what you say and do in an online environment: Stop and think before filling in surveys, entering competitions, clicking on links or attachments, or even ‘befriending’, ‘liking’ or ‘sharing’ something.
3 Keep your mobile devices and computers secure: Always use password protection, don’t share access with others (including remotely), update security software and back up content. Protect your Wi-Fi network with a password and avoid using public computers or Wi-Fi hotspots to access online banking or provide personal information.
4 Choose your passwords carefully: A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile, and don’t share your passwords with anyone.
5 Beware of any request for your details or money: Use the phone book or an online search to check the organisation’s contact details. Never use the contact details provided in the original request.
6 Get a copy of your credit report: You can get a free copy of your report every year to check that no one is using your name to borrow money or run up debts. Find out how to get your free credit report on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.
If you think your banking details have been compromised, you should contact your bank or credit union immediately. If you think your identity information has been stolen, you should contact iDcare – a free government-industry service www.idcare.org or call 1300 IDCARE (1300 432 273).