Aussies to be fleeced out of more cash than ever this year by crafty scammers

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is now urging consumers to brush up on their scam knowledge. Source: Getty

Unsuspecting victims are being ripped off more than ever, with a new report revealing that Aussies are set to be conned out of a record amount to scams in 2019 as losses are forecasted to exceed $532 million by the end of the year. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is now urging consumers to brush up on their scam knowledge, as part of this year’s National Scams Awareness Week, which kicks off today, in a bid to stop devious scammers.

“Many people are confident they would never fall for a scam but often it’s this sense of confidence that scammers target,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “People need to update their idea of what a scam is so that we are less vulnerable. Scammers are professional businesses dedicated to ripping us off. They have call centres with convincing scripts, staff training programs, and corporate performance indicators their ‘employees’ need to meet.”

Read more: Alarming rise in NBN scams as ‘vulnerable’ Aussies fleeced out of $500,000

Investment scams are one of the most financially devastating, the ACCC warned, with almost half of all investment scams reported this year resulting in financial loss. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency investment scams have seen record losses, with people losing $14.76 million between January and July 2019.

The ACCC also advised people to exercise caution when using the internet, as many scammers use social media platforms, fake celebrity endorsements or fake online trading platforms that are made to look legitimate in a bid to get you to part with your hard-earned cash. Meanwhile, Rickard also offered some tips to stay protected, adding: “Don’t be persuaded by celebrity endorsements or ‘not to be missed’ opportunities. You never know for certain who you’re dealing with or whether they’re credible.

Read more: Scams on the rise: Aussies conned out of half a billion dollars last year

“If you think you’re speaking to a friend on social media, call them, or find another way to contact them before acting on any advice that might result in you giving away your personal details or money.”

She continued: “Remember, anyone could fall victim and no one is ‘too smart to be scammed’. Always ask yourself, ‘could this be a scam?’ and if you’re ever in doubt, decline the contact or hang up the phone – it’s often the safest option.”

Meanwhile, the news comes after the NBN announced it wants to help set the record straight when it comes to scams and is planning to take vulnerable Aussies back to school in a bid to help them more easily spot potential scams, through a series of public information sessions.

Over the past three months NBN has received more than 9,500 calls — an average of 100 a day — from the public about suspected scams. Sadly Baby Boomers were noted as the most “vulnerable” age group falling for the tricks.

The company said it’s now concentrating on arming residents, particularly those who are more vulnerable, with information on scams. 

Read more: Beware! NBN scams on the rise as service rolls out across Australia

“Through our interactions with the community, we know that scams are, without a doubt, a major topic of concern with respect to the nbn,” the company said in a statement.  “As we close in on the end of the network build, scammers are increasing their efforts to take advantage of the nbn brand as a way to steal people’s personal or financial details and using increasingly sophisticated ways to convince people of their legitimacy.”

Read more: Baby Boomers hit the hardest by increasing number of scams

The company also reminded customers they will never make unsolicited calls or door knock for the purposes “of seeking access to people’s computer, threaten to disconnect your services or request personal or financial details”.

“Your phone and internet provider will always be the first point of contact when it comes to making the switch to the nbn™ network, so if you’re in doubt, hang up and contact your provider to verify the call.”

Have you, or someone you know, ever fallen victim to a scam? Do you think you’d be able to spot the warning signs?

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