Seniors warned to stay alert against growing threat of scams

Senior Australians have been warned to stay alert against cyber criminals who are targeting this section of the community in their latest scams which stole more than $11 million last year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it received 16,915 reports from seniors who had been scammed in 2021.

Older Australians are an easy target for cyber criminals because they are not as tech savvy as younger users and many have large sums of money with their life savings and superannuation.

Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos says $6.7 million has been lost after scammers requested payment through fake invoices.

“In one case, a consumer lost $760,000 when their mortgage brokers email had been compromised,” Ms Petinos said.

“Targeting vulnerable Australians is abhorrent behaviour. Fair Trading has a zero tolerance approach to any fraudsters ripping off hardworking people.

“Be wary of any requests for money. another red flag is being asked to transfer money via an unusual payment methods such as preloaded credit cards, gift cards or virtual currency.”

Other common scams include phishing emails which are made to look like they are from your bank, the post office, a utility company or other financial institution.

“Seniors deserve better than to be preyed on by lowlife criminals and defrauded of their life savings,” says Minister for Seniors Mark Coure.

“Older people have worked their whole lives to make NSW to great state it is today.

“Anyone taking advantage of senior should have the book thrown at them.”

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN SCAMMED

– Contact your financial institution: If you shared banking details or have sent money, contact your financial institution immediately and they may be able to stop the transaction or close your account to protect you from losing even more money. A credit card provider may also be able to reverse any fraudulent transactions

– Change your online passwords: Some scams are committed as a result of hacking or computers being infected with malware so you should immediately change the password of all your online accounts. And don’t use the same password across all your accounts because if it is compromised, the cybercriminals’ next step is to try the same password on all your other accounts.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST SCAMS

– Don’t respond: If you receive suspicious emails, letters, phone calls or messages don’t engage. Ignore the message and throw the letter in the bin.

– Check if it’s real: Scammers go to a lot of trouble to try to fool you including creating fake websites, enticing glossy brochures and posing as someone they are not. On the internet it’s not hard to check if a business is legitimate.

– Don’t react: Cyber criminals will try to get a reaction out of you to get you to respond so don’t let emotions get the better of you – that’s what a scammer wants.

– Protect your identity: Personal details should be protected at all costs. These details are like valuable currency for scammers. Only use secure websites or a phone to transmit sensitive information and avoid filling out forms online that ask for personal financial information.

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