The scams to watch out for this Christmas 52



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We feel like a broken record but to be completely honest, the scam warnings are not decreasing, they are only increasing with the busy Christmas period.

Just a fortnight ago, the Fraud and Cyber Crime Group issued a warning to both businesses and individuals to be on high alert.

“In the last month we have noticed a dramatic increase in not only the number of scams circulating, but the sophisticated nature of these scams. We are concerned and need to ensure the community is taking every possible step to prevent this from happening to them.

“The theft of personal and business data will continue. Whether these thefts be aimed at the individual or at larger organisations as part of strategic ransomware attacks, these crimes are highly profitable for criminals and will without question, continue to rise,” Acting Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence of the Fraud and Cyber Crime Group said.

So we’ve saved you the worry by compiling together the top scams that are doing the rounds this Christmas.

1. Counterfeit, fake or misleading toys

News Limited reports there are a myriad of dodgy shops full of cheap, untested and easily breakable toys that cash in on the popularity of movies and TV shows such as Star Wars, Lego, Avengers, Minecraft, Superman, Pokemon, Nintendo, and Disney products, including Frozen.

One that we’ve seen frequently in market stalls and in discount shops is the “brand” LEBQ, which is styled to look just like LEGO branding and includes the popular avengers characters.

If you think you’ve been duped or something isn’t as described, take it back to the shop as a first port of call. You can also report it to the office of Fair Trading.

Price should give you a good indication of whether a toy is a fake and also the retailer from which you buy it. Look closely at the packaging and, if possible, feel the quality of the actual toy itself to see if it is a cheap copy.

2. Holiday/cash winner

A number of Australians have been receiving calls from someone saying they have won a holiday or cash. While it can feel very surprising and exciting, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) are warning that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you receive a phone call from people purporting to be from reputable companies such as Qantas or Virgin, these are people involved in this scam.

Like any unsolicited call, never give financial or personal information to the person, and hang up if you feel it is suspicious. Scammers are very cunning and can try to make you feel at ease even if you say you think it could be a scam.

3. ATO scam

This new scam – the latest of many – comes as a strong reminder to all Australians: always be wary of the power of a manipulative phone call.

Thousands of people have recently fallen victim to a scammer claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office and that you have outstanding debts – a huge shock that immediately puts the victim on the defensive.

The scammer will ask victims to go to a post office to pay off the debt via wire transfer – a payment method where it’s almost impossible to recover lost funds.

If in doubt about an Australian Tax Office call, you can contact them directly on 13 28 61.

4. ATM skimmers

Police are warning Australians to be careful when using ATMs after another wave of skimming has taken $1 million from bank users.

Some of the ringleaders and money launderers have been caught but there’s still concerns the ATM skimming devices are on ATMs and are capturing sensitive data to withdraw large sums of money.

The scam involves criminals fitting card reading devices to older ATMs and installing hidden cameras to capture customer’s keypad entries, reports Fairfax.

5 ways to stay safe or detect a suspicious ATM:

  1. Before using the ATM, look for any noticeable signs of a skimmer – they can look like a part of the machine but are an accessory to it, either over the card slot or keypad.
  2. Look for a camera (not the usual bank camera) that may be blinking. It could be hidden to the left or right of the machine.
  3. Use secure ATMs inside of a bank’s entrance – they’re less likely to have been tampered with
  4. Always cover your PIN with your hand or bag.
  5. Call the customer service number on the ATM immediately if a machine appears suspicious.

5. Stolen identity

Recent attacks have included not only malware and calling scams, but attempts to steal identity (through phishing, hacking, remote access scams and document theft).

Identity theft continues to target people through phishing (links in emails), hacking (gaining access through security scams), and remote access scams (you allow a “helpdesk” to take control of your computer). And even still, scammers stealing information through your credit cards and details from your letterbox, continue to be a threat.

Here’s how you can protect yourself:

• Do not open attachments or click links in emails or social media messages that are unsolicited or unexpected. Delete them.
• Be wary of any free downloads or website access. They may install harmful software without your knowledge
• Keep your security up to date on your electronic devices ie download anti-virus software from a trusted source.
• Never send money or give credit card, passwords, online account details or documents to anyone you do not know.
• Be careful of the information on your social media profile. A birthday, middle name and address can be enough for a scammer to build a profile on you and steal your identity.

Tell us, have you ever been the victim of a scam?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Here’s another. Supposedly from Telstra telling you that “you’ve been overcharged, click here and we’ll get in touch about a refund”. But they can’t even spell Telstra correctly – Telestra!!!!

  2. The ATO one left multiple messages on my landline I ignored and deleted but it was disconcerting. Anytime you get a message like this check directly with the ATO they would never communicate anything like that through a phone call message. I checked when a series of emails were sent. They even mention a certified letter that I failed to sign. All bulls…of course.

  3. Thank you for this information. I have received 3 calls supposedly from the Tax Office and numerous calls purporting to be from Microsoft Office IT Support.

    7 REPLY
    • I had one supposedly from the White Pages. Started to ask for personal info. I told them to get lost?

    • i have had one call a few times claiming my computer has been hacked and i must log in immediatly, one of these calls was at 9.15pm i was in bed, i rang telstra and they said they would never call at that time of night.

    • I have also had them from the computer people this morning he didn’t say he was from anywhere just “about your computer” I hung up then 2 minutes later another one.

    • I told one of those computer scammers that I didn’t have a computer! His next question “Why not”!!!! 😂

    • I have a friend who’s had several calls from the “ATO”. Ive had a lot of emails, which I delete, from scammers saying I havent paid for an item. They try anything.

  4. Have had two in the last week, same lady “jenny”” one about a government education scheme and the other the old accident one!!

    1 REPLY
  5. As a former ATO employee, I cannot stress enough – that the ATO will NEVER ring you out of the blue to tell you that you have a debt.

    You will NEVER be threatened with arrest or a visit by police and genuine ATO staff will never issue any other threats.

    Also, all genuine written communications will bear your Tax File Number. Look for that, before you do anything – and make sure any given TFN is correct. You should have it recorded.

  6. Me to Donna I have had two makes me laugh as well owe the tax man money bloody arseholes I don’t even get up answer phone now

    1 REPLY
    • Hi Sharon – I also used to work in the ATO – in the Debt Collection area, to be precise – and we definitely did NOT call people about their tax debts. We sent out letters and when they called us, then payment arrangements were made (usually when they came in for an appointment). So, after the 2nd or 3rd call, I just said, I used to work for the Tax Office and they do not … I hadn’t even finished the sentence, when they hung up!!

  7. I answered the phone (landline ) and it was supposedly Qantas telling me I was picked for a $999.00 credit for my next flight! Has anyone else had this call also?

    2 REPLY
  8. if a person rings, ask for their name and a phone number you can verify them on, they usually hang up, only the real ones will give you the information

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