In an ideal world this email would be unnecessary but sadly we’re seeing and hearing of an increasing number of email and phone scams.
Emails from Nigerian princes promising untold riches are still around, but scammers have become increasingly sophisticated to the point where it can be very hard to detect what’s genuine and what’s not.
You may have read in the press in recent weeks about an AFL footballer who lost his life savings to scammers who joined an existing text chain with his bank and also called him from a number that he identified as being from his bank.
I’d like to highlight a few scams that we’ve seen and to provide some tips for how they can be avoided.
Government and tax related scams
This time of year, when many are preparing to lodge their tax return, is rife for scams.
Some scammers target myGov accounts as it’s a single source of a lot of information from unsuspecting targets.
They also count on people responding to something that seems to come from the government, especially if it suggests that they’re due a refund or if it contains threats of legal action.
The government has prepared some detailed information about the scams that they’re aware of - please follow this link for more information - https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/active-scams?context=60271#accordion3:
One of the themes common to many of these scams is that they contain the name of a government agency – myGov, Centrelink, Medicare, ATO etc – so at face value they appear genuine.
Scammers will also use the names of well-known institutions – especially banks.
Types of scams
Scammers send what appears to be an invoice from a company but have changed the bank details to their own account. Victims pay the invoice believing that the money is going to the right place.
Emails and texts that appear to come from a legitimate source (eg: the above government and tax related scams). The emails or texts contain a link to input personal information or login details.
Scammers gain access to download software onto your computer that enables them to access data. This can also be executed via a phone call where the scammer claims to be a tech expert who can help fix an issue with your computer.
Threats (eg: legal action), extortion, dating scams, investment scams and fake charities are some other means of scamming.
These are only a selection. The Scam Watch website contains a more complete list of known and possible scams - https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
How can you identify if something is a scam?
This is the hard part because scammers have become very sophisticated.
A few tips:
How can you protect yourself against scams?
It can be intimidating if you’re contacted by the government, the ATO or by a bank, but if in any doubt it’s best to assume that it’s a scam. It's better to wrongly accuse a scam than to give thieves access to your information.
What to do if you fear that you’ve been scammed or that your personal information has been accessed:
A note about superannuation, pension and investment accounts:
The platforms that we deal with spend a significant amount of time and money ensuring that their online services are secure.
Where you’re entitled to access your superannuation, withdrawals (income streams and lump sums) can only be paid to a bank account in your name or in a joint name. These accounts will always be verified by the platform prior to any payments being made.
We sometimes receive emails from clients asking for money to be paid from an investment account to a third party. For first time payments our process is to call you to confirm that the request is genuine, and we will ask for signed withdrawal paperwork as confirmation where required.
Platforms are also using two factor identification (eg: codes sent via text) to validate payments.
As always, please contact our office for more information or at any time that you’re concerned that you may have fallen victim to a scam if we can be of assistance.
Next Level Financial Services provides financial information in an easy to read format.