Hey there, Steve here and welcome to this week’s private eye post. Over the last few months we’ve seen a huge rise in scams all over Australia. The worst news is that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to recover your money. In all but the largest of cases, the cost of investigations can make it a pointless exercise.
The best thing you can do is remain vigilant, and protect yourself so that you aren’t the easy target. Below I’ve detailed some of the most common scams we’re seeing, but remember that scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated. Always make sure someone is who they say they are, and do not part with any of your money or property until you have double-checked. Scammers work by creating unique but plausible situations that require prompt action on the part of the person being targeted. Remember — if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Disclaimer: This information is for general educational purposes only and is not any kind of legal, business or financial advice, nor advice of any sort. For help with an individual situation, please contact us or use the live chat feature [when available] on this page.
#1 Tax Scams
There’s been a huge rise in tax scams over the last couple of months. It seems the nation is being bombarded with phone calls (in-person and pre-recorded messages) and emails that threaten arrest over unpaid tax debts. Most are by phone, and the number will look like the actual ATO number. The ATO will never threaten you in this way. Hang up the phone, or delete the email. Do not call any number provided in a text or email.
#2 Holiday Season Scams
Keep a lock-down on your personal information, as well as your money. There are heaps of fake online stores, and fake classified ads selling “unwanted Christmas gifts.” They’re all designed to get your money buying items that don’t really exist. In 2018 official reports suggest Australians have been robbed of $3 million bucks! As well as these fake goods for sale, there are lots of travel scams about too. Did you suddenly win a holiday, or cruise that you can’t even remember entering? It’s likely phony. Don’t click links in emails or texts telling you that you won a prize. They’re usually ID theft scams, or trying to get you to download malware onto your devices.
#3 Business Email Compromise Attacks
This one is on the rise, and usually companies don’t realise until it’s far too late. Hackers are spoofing business emails, asking customers to pay accounts with new banking details. Or, they’re sending emails internally to accounts to ask for funds to be transferred somewhere. Imagine working in the accounts department, and getting an email from your CEO asking you to make a payment somewhere. This isn’t limited to businesses either. Some scammers are intercepting house deposits sent to conveyancers, or law firms. They’re targeting businesses, organisations, clubs and charities of all sizes. If something strange comes through by email, then you should be extra vigilant.
The scammers continue to get more and more sophisticated in the nature of their attacks. As everyone becomes more comfortable with online transactions you must take extra care with your information, money and property. Make sure you stay safe in 2019.
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Until next week,