Experts reveal the six emerging scams to watch out for in the new year

Jan 12, 2024
While scammers attempt to take advantage of our digital lives, with a little awareness and knowledge we can turn the tables on cybercriminals. Source: Getty Images.

As the confetti settles and the echoes of New Year’s celebrations fade away, the spotlight turns to the opportunities that await in 2024.

However, amid the excitement, experts caution against the growing threat of emerging scams that seek to take advantage of our digital lives.

Fear not, for with a little awareness and knowledge, we can turn the tables on cybercriminals.

NAB’s fraud and cybersecurity experts have highlighted the emerging scams to keep an eye out for in 2024 which include AI voice impersonation schemes and QR code phishing.

NAB Manager Advisory Awareness Laura Hartley said the ‘scamscape’ was constantly changing and the use of AI was expected to take scams to another level in 2024.

“When many of us are relaxing enjoying the new year, scammers are busy working on new scams,” Hartley said.

“Criminals are targeting Aussies enjoying their break by using sophisticated technology to manipulate victims when and where they least suspect it.

“We have identified these six scams based on what we’re seeing overseas and key issues and challenges in society. These are scams every Australian needs to know about so they can recognise the red flags and protect themselves.”

The top six scams to watch out for this year include:

AI voice impersonation scams:  In a world where technology can now mimic human voices, scammers are using AI to impersonate loved ones in distress, manipulating victims into believing a fake crisis. The key to dodging this scam is to stay calm, verify the caller’s identity through other means, and resist the urge to act impulsively.

Term deposit investment scams: Exploiting financial concerns, scammers are pushing term deposit scams promising attractive returns. Hartley advises Australians to be cautious, verify financial institutions independently, and resist the allure of glossy brochures and unsolicited professional follow-ups.

Remote access scams using chat: Perpetrators convincing individuals to download applications for remote access are on the rise. Stay one step ahead by verifying the legitimacy of any remote access requests, avoiding downloads from unknown sources, and keeping your personal information secure.

Romance scams: Romance scammers are out to win hearts and wallets. Whether it’s through social media or dating apps, be vigilant, take your time getting to know someone, and never send compromising photos. If a situation feels too urgent, take a step back and reassess.

Ticket scams: With the summer entertainment season in full swing, scammers are seizing the opportunity to exploit ticket sales. Verify ticket sources, avoid transactions on social media platforms, and be cautious if a deal seems too good to be true.

QR code phishing scams: Unlike traditional phishing, QR code phishing hides malicious links in pixelated squares. Stay safe by scanning QR codes only from trusted sources, avoiding downloads prompted by unfamiliar codes, and being wary of urgent requests.

Hartley underscores the prevailing sense of urgency tied to these scams, serving as a signal that something may be awry.

“Scammers create a sense of urgency to encourage you to act quickly,” she said.

“It could be a phone call from your ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ in distress and needing money, a fantastic term deposit rate that’s only available for a limited time or cheap concert tickets going quickly.”

Previous reports from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have unfortunately indicated that people aged 65 and over have often reported the highest losses to scams, with losses increasing with age.

When it comes to avoiding falling victim to scam activity, the ACCC suggests the following:

  • Always make sure you know who you are dealing with or talking to. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If you are not sure that an offer is genuine, do not go through with the purchase or share personal details.
  • Check if the company is registered through the ABN lookup website.
  • Read reviews of the business and check for signs that it could be a scam.
  • Use a credit card rather than a debit card or bank transfer so that you can ask your bank for a chargeback.
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