Although our priority is to assist our Members to bank securely, there are limits to what Police Credit Union can do as an organisation to prevent scams. Scammers seek to exploit Members rather than gaps in our transaction security. By regularly informing our Members, you will be in the best position to understand and prevent scams from being successful. Please read the following information to help protect yourself from scams.
What is a scam?
A scam is any fraudulent business, scheme or action that deceives a person out of something, but usually money.
As the security of banking channels increases, scams rather than fraud present the greatest risk to your money.
If you are involved with a scam, you may be liable for any money lost.
Scams are increasing
Scam activity is greatly increasing and a very costly issue. With record numbers of banking customers experiencing losses, Police Credit Union has increased security around online transactions.
These measures have been implemented to maximise protection for our Members. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to you – our intention is to inconvenience the scammers and to ensure we maintain our security levels.
How scams start
Be aware of the following, so that you are less likely to fall victim to a scam:
- Unsolicited phone calls:
– claiming to be a ‘banking customer satisfaction survey’ or similar.
– asking for banking or personal details, or access to your computer or mobile device – no matter who the caller claims to be.
– claiming you have been refunded money in error.
– that are just recorded messages.
- Unsolicited SMSes or emails that include a link – no matter who the sender claims to be.
– Emails from family or friends encouraging you to click a link or participate in an ‘investment’. Their email account may have been hacked, always call the sender and speak to them directly.
– Contacts met through online dating that begin discussing financial matters before you have met face-to-face and entered into a relationship.
– Work-from-home opportunities that promise high wages for relatively little work. These lead to money laundering, and if you participate you are committing a crime.
– Error pop-ups on your computer or mobile device that include a link or phone number.
– Online investment offers, especially through social media. Never enter into an investment without consulting a certified and reputable Australian Financial Planner.
Signs of scams
The best way to avoid scams is to understand the different ways scammers will try and trick you out of your personal information, money or goods.
Scams can target anyone but are statistically most effective against over 55’s. Men lose the most money – usually through investment scams – while women are more affected by romance scams.
Here are some red flags that may indicate you’re at risk of entering into a scam:
Being asked to:
- pay a private seller for any goods ‘sight unseen’, with cars and pets being the highest risk.
- make payments at any point when selling goods privately (eg. for transport) – always wait to see the funds cleared in your account first.
- provide remote access or to install any software on your computer or mobile device under instruction.
- to install ‘a codec to view a video attachment’ or ‘an app to access voicemail’.
- provide any login details or one-time security codes.
- Provide payments as a refund for a ‘previous overpayment’. Check the source of the payment, as it may have even come from one of your own accounts.
- Make payments to somehow receive a larger payment.
- purchase gift cards and provide the numbers on these cards.
- Complete transactions based on unsolicited instructions via phone, email, SMS, or social media.
- Complete transactions to ‘protect your account’ or ‘catch a scammer’.
Here are some other key signs to look out for:
- If someone speaks to Police Credit Union staff on your behalf. Scammers will try to mislead your financial institution about the nature of a transaction. They are seeking access to your accounts.
- Offers advertised through social media with a ‘celebrity endorsement’ – recent examples have included bogus health products with images of well-known personalities such as Maggie Beer, and ‘investment opportunities’ featuring images of Dick Smith or Pauline Hanson.
- If you are selling goods, and the buyer mentions they are working on an oil rig.
- ‘Investments’ not directly recommended by your certified Australian financial planner, with cryptocurrencies being the highest risk.
Protect yourself from scams
Please be aware that scams are a major, common issue and an even greater risk to our Members than fraud.
Scammers rely on banking customers like you being the weakest link in the security chain, the more prepared you are against scams, the less successful they will be.
While scams take many forms, these precautions will apply to most cases:
- NEVER provide remote access to your computer or mobile device, or download software under instruction.
- NEVER provide login details or one-time passwords to ANYONE.
- SLOW DOWN. Scammers will try to rush, confuse, or frighten you into participating in a scam. If you’re feeling pressured, be careful and don’t be afraid to end the conversation.
- DON’T ACT IMMEDIATELY. Scammers will often present you with a problem, hoping you’ll panic and focus on solving it instead of being wary.
- TAKE TIME TO REFLECT ON OFFERS. Scammers will try to appeal to your personal vulnerability. For example, you might think “This investment will perform well and I’d be smart to take this up.” Or “It’s never too late to find true romance and this person is the one.” Consider all the possible risks and your own personal bias before acting on an offer. Make sure you talk to family and friends, or call us.
- CALL AN ORGANISATION DIRECTLY. A scammer may claim to be from a well-known organisation (Microsoft, Police, even Police Credit Union). Halt your initial contact and directly call these organisations on their publicly listed number before you co-operate.
- REVIEW THE PLAUSIBILITY OF A SITUATION. Be cautious when you are presented with an unlikely scenario.
- BE IMMEDIATELY SKEPTICAL of any unsolicited contact – whether by phone, email, SMS, or any other means – no matter who it appears to be from.
- BE IMMEDIATELY SKEPTICAL of anything advertised through social media, as these are very popular platforms for scammers.
- CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY BEFORE PROCEEDING if you do not fully understand an offer, request, or demand presented to you.
- REGULARLY CHECK YOUR ACCOUNT STATEMENTS using Online Banking. Become familiar with your accounts using the Police Credit Union Banking App or Online Banking tohelp you regularly track your transactions. If you spot any unusual activity on your account, make sure to call us immediately.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? Would a stranger really randomly contact you to offer you money? Would a successful investor contact you at random for your benefit…or for theirs? Would Telstra really send you a $10,000 refund accidentally? Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, assume it is a scam.
Common types of scams
When something seems too good to be true, assume it is. Scammers will try to approach you by email, cold call, or social media with a money making opportunity. Investment scammers often flood search results with positive reviews of their brands, so a Google search is not enough research to spot risks.
Always contact a certified Australian Financial Planner if you are interested in exploring valid investment options.
Always remember that ALL investment strategies carry risk, and never commit funds you cannot afford to lose.
We are increasingly seeing our Members being coached by scammers on what to say to our credit union staff. Our Members are being falsely told that:
- Police Credit Union staff are trying to steal your funds, therefore you should lie about the nature of a transfer.
- The transaction may be queried, so you should lie to ensure it is processed.
- You are being promised funds, therefore you will need to lie to Police Credit Union staff, to ensure funds are received.
Trust Police Credit Union – not the random caller on the phone. There is NEVER a valid reason to mislead any financial institution about the nature of a transaction. Even when the caller claims to be from the Police or even if the caller claims to be from Police Credit Union. The scammers are trying to discourage you from contacting Police Credit Union directly.
WARNING: If you mislead Police Credit Union about the nature of a transaction, we cannot protect your money. Funds successfully transferred due to a misleading story which you have provided – will be lost.
Fraud Protection Scams
Sometimes scammers will claim to be calling you about potential fraud on your account. They may even claim to be from Police Credit Union and place you on hold using our hold messages to deceive you about the authenticity of the call. In a genuine call, Police Credit Union will NEVER require banking information from you (e.g. card numbers, account numbers or passwords), or ask you to complete a transaction. If you have any doubt at all about the authenticity of a call, HANG UP and call us ASAP on 1300 131 844.
Fraud Recovery Scams
If anyone contacts you and offers to recover lost funds, claiming to be from law enforcement, a government agency, or other types of fraud/funds recovery specialists – including Police Credit Union – THIS IS A SCAM.
Some scammers advertise online, claiming to be scam recovery specialists or posing as consumers on review sites, claiming they can recover lost funds and providing a link.
Funds lost to scams are not recoverable. Scammers quickly move funds, beyond the reach of any recovery efforts. Anyone claiming otherwise is attempting to scam you again. Consider the plausibility of their story – if scams were recoverable, would Police Credit Union be so concerned about protecting you?
Organised criminals regularly advertise jobs, even through reputable employment websites. If an advertised job consists of working from home and moving money online, it is likely to be money laundering which is a criminal offence.
Unfortunately, not everyone online is who they say they are. There are people who will create fake online profiles, and work to gain your trust (sometimes over months or years) to defraud you. Avoid romantic contact from overseas, or with someone who claims to be working overseas. NEVER send money or participate in ANY financial activity with someone you have only met online and not met in person.
Romance scammers are increasingly tricking victims into money laundering. If you are asked to receive or move money online, it is probably money laundering. Participating in money laundering activities is a criminal offence.
Romance scammers rely on your embarrassment to stop you speaking up. Don’t help them. If you suspect you have become involved in a romance scam, talk about it with someone you trust and contact us as soon as possible.
Money Laundering is a Crime
Participating in money laundering activities is a criminal offence and you risk prosecution, even as a scam victim of any employment/job scam or are unwittingly involved with a romance scam. Money laundering can be related to terrorism financing, which carries even greater consequences.
These common scam SMS text messages feature information about missed calls, voicemails, deliveries from unrecognised numbers / contacts or clickbait based on news headlines – even warnings about device infection by Flubot itself.
These text messages ask you to click on a link to track a package, or listen to a voicemail message etc. These are fake messages. There is NO delivery or voicemail, and the link will install the malicious Flubot software on your device. NEVER click on a link on these messages, as you will often be redirected to a new website page that looks like an official brand, where you will then be prompted to install software on your phone to listen to the fake voicemail message.
If you agree to install the file, the malware will install and if permissions are granted, hackers/scammers can gain access to your credit card details, personal information, text messages, browser and any other information that is held on your device.
Important: both Android phones and iPhones can receive Flubot messages.
Email and SMS Scams
Phone calls, emails or text messages can often appear to be from a reputable sender but these are not secure communication channels and are commonly targeted by scammers. Remember, we will never ask you for banking information by email or text message.
Here are some other things to remember when you receive emails:
- When you receive any request by email, it is always better to be over-cautious and contact the sender by phone on their publicly listed number (not using a number from the email!)
- Emails from family and friends can be risks too. Email account takeover is common, contact the sender directly before acting on anything in the email.
- NEVER click on any links in emails.
These are scams involving fraudulent advertisers claiming to be dog breeders with puppies for sale, sometimes at tempting prices. Once you enter into a transaction there will often be unexpected extra costs, such as transport or insurance. Scammers will continue to ask for money for as long as they can, and no puppy will ever be delivered.
Don’t be distracted by cute photos – be extremely cautious of any offers, especially on social media, especially from interstate. Contact local breeders’ associations for assistance before entering into any transaction, and if you suspect you have become involved in a scam – contact us immediately.
Remote access scams
A caller will use a fake but believable story to obtain access to your computer or device by pretending to be from a well-known company, or even the police. Once they access your computer or device, scammers can then access your personal information from a remote location. Look out for texts or emails too.
Resetting passwords or replacing cards won’t protect against remote access scams, as new details can become compromised as soon as they are used online. We require any compromised device to be professionally checked before your account access is restored.
If anyone calls and asks for remote access to your computer or mobile device, or asks you to install any software, HANG UP!
Find out more
To find out more information about current scams, check out the government website, Scam Watch.
To help you spot, avoid and educate yourself on scams, read the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s guide The Little Book of Scams.
Read more about the security of your money with Police Credit Union and how we protect you.