This year held one of the biggest cyber-attack scams in Australia. The Optus data breach hit Australians in September resulting in millions of customer names and emails, dates of birth, phone numbers with their licenses, and passports accessed by hackers where identity theft was running rampant.
A terrible reality many Australians are facing as sophisticated scams target our vulnerabilities and become more prevalent during the ongoing health and financial crisis we’re experiencing. You may think that these scams only affect our older Australians, when in fact they’re painfully swindling most age groups at a similar rate. Those aged 55 to 64 experienced the highest losses totalling roughly $30 million, while 25 to 34 year old’s reported the second-highest cases.
So, it’s important for all Aussies to remain vigilant of recent Australian scams popping up and to know how to spot them and protect yourself.
At Invest Blue, we partner with leaders in technology and data protection to ensure our processes, systems and tools remain as well protected as is possible, and that we maintain a current vigilance in our approach to managing this risk.
If you would like to discuss your options and how you might manage it from a financial perspective, please get in touch.
What types of scams Australia is prone to?
As we continue to advance our technological capabilities, it’s also opening us up to varying types of scams to fall prey to each day.
It was found in the Government’s latest targeting scams report that the most popular scams Australians are facing are those categorised as investment scams (totalling a combined loss of $1.8 billion in the last year.
12 financial organisations and other government agencies were affected. When we take into account that around one third of victims don’t report it, it is clear that the real loss figure is well over $2 billion. We also know that the true cost of scams is far more than just financial – it leads to emotional stress and can have life changing consequences for many individuals, families, and businesses.
According to the report the losses came from: $701 million lost to investment scams, $227 million lost to payment redirection scams and a whopping $142 million lost to romance scams.
What are some investment scams to avoid?
Being the most popular type of scam out there, investment scams target your personal wealth and trick you into investing in fake schemes and companies. You see the warning signs with such phrases used as ‘get rich quick’, ‘risk-free investment’ and ‘become a millionaire’.
Financial Planner Adam Ghanem suggests “one of the biggest things to mention is that since most of Australians data has been compromised, scam emails are looking very legit, in terms of them using full names. It’ll be an email saying Hi John Smith*,” by using your first name and last they are harder to spot. …”once upon a time it was easy to spot fake emails, so what I do to pick them up is, I hover my mouse over the sender email or if I am using a phone, you click the email and you’ll usually see that it isn’t an Australian Post email, it will be some dodgy address.”
Three common investment scams to watch out for are:
Investment cold calls:
This is where a scammer (operating from overseas) calls you posing as a stockbroker or portfolio manager and says they have low-risk, high return investment opportunities you can make money off. This is usually in the form of investing in overseas companies; shares, mortgage or real estate schemes and foreign currency trading.
A scammer contacts you by email or posts online encouraging you to buy shares in a company they predict is about to jump in value and you need to act quickly. In reality, they’ve got shares and are trying to boost the stock price so they can sell it off at a higher rate, exiting before it falls and leaving you at a loss or with worthless stock.
Often promoted by motivational speakers or self-made millionaires promising advice that will make you rich. These events can be free or even charge an attendance fee and are designed to get you following their high-risk strategies. In the end, you’re hit with hidden fees and undisclosed charges, while also encouraging you into buying expensive investment reports and books.
How scams are affecting everyday Australians
No matter who you talk to these days, you’re likely to hear a story of a person they know who has been scammed or they themselves have received at least a suspicious email, call, text, letter or social media message.
They call impersonating a financial service provider and offer early withdrawal of super funds, benefits on superannuation, and other fake services to get your personal information. The information is then used to steal funds from superannuation accounts.
Small Business Scams:
Specifically targeting the helplessness of small business owners in the ongoing difficult times. Scammers compromise business emails of entities and pretend to be suppliers or customers. The businesses are then asked to divert their regular account payments to new accounts that belong to the scammers.
Here’s a useful article on how to preventing tax scams.
Tips for protecting yourself
Below are some simple tips to protect yourself from investments scams and other common online scams:
1. Never respond to unsolicited calls and messages. Avoid sharing any personal details including bank account information, credit/debit card numbers and other financials even if they claim to be from a government agency or other reputable organisation
2. Seek the professional advice of an accredited and reputable financial adviser before investing your money. You can confirm this by checking they have an Australian Financial Services License or Australian Credit License from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission
3. Check they’re not on the ‘do not deal with’ list provided by the Australian Government’s MoneySmart website
4. Secure strong passwords and privacy settings for your social media and email accounts as well as your computer and mobile devices. Ensure these devices also have the latest virus protection software installed
5. Never click any hyperlinks or attachments provided in emails, text or social media messages. Also, hang up immediately if you receive a suspicious call
6. Check the email address of the sender. Scammers can make it look like it’s an email from anyone, including trusted sources such as MyGov, if you view the email address the email came from, you can quickly see if the @ address matches. If it doesn’t it’s likely a scam.
7. Review sellers before making online purchases. Do not fall for attempts for upfront money transfers and international fund transfers
8. Stay up to date on different types of scams occurring. If you know how people are getting scammed, you’re less likely to fall in the trap yourself
9. Call the company back to verify. If you’re not sure you trust the caller you can always hang up and call back on the direct number. They will be able to verify if it was them or not.
How to report a scam?
If you think you have been targeted by a scam, immediately report it to ASIC or contact your local police. Also stop communicating, sending any money and be cautious of follow up scams or offers claiming to help recover your money.
Gain quality advice
Don’t fall victim to scammers promising easy and quick returns. Engage with a licensed financial adviser who can provide quality investment advice to safeguard your future.
At Invest Blue we’re passionate about helping people achieve their financial dream and goals.
Speak with one of our trusted and accredited financial advisers today on how we can help you live your best possible life.
What you need to know
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