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 is increasing, it is scams rather than fraud which present the greatest risk to your money.
If you are involved with a scam, you may be liable for any lost transactions.
Be aware of the following, so that you are less likely to fall victim to a scam:
- Be immediately skeptical of anything advertised through social media, as these are very popular platforms for scammers
- If an offer seems too good to be true, assume it’s a scam
- If you do not fully understand an offer, request, or demand presented to you, contact us before proceeding
- Regularly checking your account statements or accounts using the Banking App or Online Banking will help you track your transactions. If you spot any unusual activity on your account, make sure to call us.
Types 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.
Here are some examples of the different types of scams to look out for and avoid:
Cold call, email and SMS scams
Often referred to as phishing scams, these phone calls, emails or text messages will appear to be from a reputable organisation but are just a scammer looking to get their hands on your personal information. Remember, Police Credit Union will never ask for your banking information by email or text message.
Here are some other things to remember when you receive emails:
- Always check the sender’s email address as scammers will try and use an address as close to a legitimate organisation’s email as possible
- Spot spelling mistakes or grammatical errors? It could be a scam
- Check the email signature as these will often look slightly different to the legitimate organisation’s email signature
- When you receive correspondence, it is always better to be over-cautious and, if you have any doubts, contact the organisation directly using the phone number on their website (not the email)
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, the Australian Taxation Office or the police. Once they access your computer or device, they can then get their hands on your personal information from a remote location. Look out for texts or emails, too.
If anyone calls and asks for remote access to your computer, hang up.
Job scams and money laundering
Organised criminals regularly advertise jobs – even through reputable employment websites. If any job you apply for consists of working from home and moving money online, it is probably money laundering. Participating in money laundering activities is a criminal offence and you risk prosecution if you enter into any such employment, even as a scam victim.
Unfortunately, not everyone online is who they say they are. There are people out there who will create fake online profiles, and work to gain your trust (sometimes over months or years) in order to defraud you. Remember most romantic scams originate from overseas, and you should never send money to someone you have not at least met in person.
Romance scammers are increasingly recruiting victims into money laundering. If you are asked to move money online, it is probably money laundering. Participating in money laundering activities is a criminal offence and you risk prosecution if you enter into any such activity, even as a scam victim.
When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. You could be approached by email, cold call and even social media with a money making opportunity that will require you to act quickly and pay an amount up front.
Offers of opportunities in cryptocurrencies are very active right now. These are extremely risky even when the offer is not an outright scam, and we recommend you avoid all cryptocurrencies. Contact a registered financial planner if you are interested in investment options.
One popular scam involves fraudulent advertisers claiming to be dog breeders offering puppies for sale, sometimes at tempting prices. Once you enter into a transaction, there will often be added unexpected costs, such as transport or insurance fees – the 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 of puppies, especially on social media and 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.
Some common scams you should be aware of include:
- Centrelink asking for payment, your details or telling you that you are owed unpaid benefits
- Microsoft support stating they have found viruses on your computer
- NBN Co. asking for remote access to solve a problem with your phone or internet connection
- PayPal asking for quick confirmation regarding a new email on your account