Lifeline offered to seniors to help ‘identify and avoid’ malicious scams

Oct 12, 2022
Source: Getty

The Government has announced it will release tips for seniors to avoid and deal with scams after a report found that scammers targeted older Australians more “than any other age group”.

Seniors are considered a prime target for scammers given that most older Australians have accumulated a considerable amount of money after a lifetime of work and are generally considered less tech-savvy than younger generations.

Director of AlphaClick IT Solutions, Angelo De Silva explained that “many senior citizens grew up without technology and the technology keeps growing and changing rapidly. Since millennials grew up with technology it’s very easy for them to adopt this change”.

“Without much knowledge, it’s easier for the scammers to get what they want. And also there is not much awareness available for the seniors in the medium they normally access such as the newspaper, council communities, and other places they normally read, listen and watch,” he said.

In recognition of Seniors Month in Queensland and in an effort to combat the rate at which seniors fall victim to scams, the government is offering a lifeline to older Australians in the form of advice and tips regarding how to “identify and avoid” scams.

Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the losses recorded from over 65-year-olds have significantly risen since before the pandemic.

“Australians over the age of 65 have reported almost four times the amount of losses to scammers in August this year compared to August 2019, before the pandemic,” Fentiman said.

“The top three scams are investment scams, dating and romance scams, and remote access scams where the victim is tricked into giving remote access to their computer, phone or tablet only to have their private information stolen.

“Investment scams promising big payouts or quick money are overwhelmingly the biggest scams people lose money to. And my advice is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Fentiman said it’s imperative to continue to shine a light on scams to negate the stigma that is often experienced by those who have fallen victim to a scam.

“It’s important that people talk about scams because by reducing the stigma around scams, we can help more people learn to identify and avoid them,” she said.

“My advice to Queenslanders is to check the Scam Watch website regularly to stay updated on the latest scams and how you can avoid them.

“Also, if you have been impacted by the recent Optus data breach, you can visit IDCARE online for information about how you might be impacted by the breach and what you can do to protect yourself.”

Tips for seniors to be ‘scam aware’ include:

  • Be wary of phone calls, or text messages from numbers you do not know, and never give the caller or sender your personal details.
  • If you receive emails asking you to verify your contact details, do not reply – contact the organisation directly using contact details sourced through an online search or phone book.
  • Be suspicious of any requests for money.
  • If you receive phone calls or emails offering financial advice or investment opportunities, hang up or delete the email.
  • If you are looking to invest money, do your research and check the company or scheme is licensed on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s website.
  • Stay updated on the latest scams and how to avoid them on the Scam Watch website.
  • Visit IDCARE to see how you can protect yourself.

Throughout 2021, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams report, which compiled data from Scamwatch, ReportCyber, major banks and money remitters, and other government agencies, reported losses of almost $1.8 billion. However, given that one-third of victims do not report scams the ACCC estimates the loss to scams totalled over $2 billion.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said “scammers are the most opportunistic of all criminals”.

“Scam activity continues to increase, and last year a record number of Australians lost a record amount of money,” Rickard said.

“They [scammers] pose as charities after a natural disaster, health departments during a pandemic, and love interests every day.

“The true cost of scams is more than a dollar figure as they also cause serious emotional harm to individuals, families, and businesses.”

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