Cut scammers out of your life

A NUMBER of people in the Valley have written to The Daily Examiner saying that they have been the target of phone calls and letters from scammers.

A recent Australian Bureau of Statistics report found that almost six-million people are exposed to scams and frauds during any given year, with more than 800,000 falling victim in some way.

The financial losses are a major concern with almost $1 billion in losses in Australia last year.

Some of the calls such as the one outlined by Sandra Connelly involve off-shore individuals contacting members of the community claiming to offer urgent IT assistance.

Another involved a letter suggesting that the recipient had inherited a large sum of money.

These scams are an attempt to get people to reveal their bank account numbers and credit card details, which criminal organisations will use to fraudulently steal from their innocent targets.

The ACCC sponsors the Scam Watch website which provides the following golden rules for avoiding becoming the victim of a scam.

If it looks too good to be true; it probably is.

Always get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.

Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: the only people who make money are the scammers.

Do not agree to offers or deals straight away: tell the person that you are not interested or that you want to get some independent advice before making a decision.

The best first line of defence for people trying to screen out scam calls is to place your phone number on the Do Not Call Register.

The Do Not Call Register was established by the Australian Communications and Media Authority five years ago.

The register allows people to place their numbers in a secure database. Companies that are licensed to telemarket to Australians have to frequently check their call list against the register and remove any individuals who have requested not be called.

Thus, if you place your name on the Do Not Call Register any telemarketing call you receive cannot be coming from an ACMA approved company and is therefore likely to be a scam.

To register online, visit https://www.donotcall.gov.au/index.cfm or via phone on 1300 792 958.

 

FACTS

  • An ABS report found that scams cost the Australian economy almost $1 billion a year;
  • Six-million Australians are exposed to a scam each year with 800,000 falling victim;
  • People who signed up to the Do Not Call register reported an 88% reduction in the number of telemarketing calls they received;
  • Because many of the criminal perpetrators are not easily in the reach of Australian enforcement agencies, consumers need to be more vigilant than ever;
  • Almost 52% of scams reported to the ACCC in 2011 were delivered by telephone;
  • In 2011 scammers pretended to be from the following government departments or services: the Australian Government, the Office of Fair Trading, the fictitious "Australian Government Reclaim Department" or "Australian Council", the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink, Consumer Affairs Victoria, various birth, death and marriage registries;
  • Scammers also pose as representatives from private companies including: banks, computer companies, telecommunications services, postal and logistics services, solar panel installers.


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