The scammers pretend to be from well-known businesses and government departments and frequently target those aged over 65.
So far in 2017, the ACCC’s Scamwatch has received more than 11,000 reports of this scam and nearly $260,000 lost.
Phishing scams are by far the most common ‘bait’ reported to Scamwatch and email or phone calls are the scammers’ preferred tools of trade for contacting potential victims.
“Scammers use phishing to trick their victims into giving out valuable personal information such as their bank account numbers, passwords, credit card numbers or even their online passwords for their PayPal, Apple or social media accounts,” said the ACCC’s Delia Rickard.
“Any personal information you have is potentially valuable to a scammer and they will try to garner it in a variety of ways."
“The vast majority come either via the phone or email. The scammers will pretend to be representatives of well-known organisations, like a bank, phone company or government department such as Centrelink or the Australian Tax Office, to give them the air of legitimacy.”
Ms Rickard said the scammer may say the bank or organisation is verifying customer records due to a technical error that wiped customer data.
They may also ask you to fill out a customer survey and offer a prize for participating. The information is then used to access victims’ credit cards, steal their identity, or scam their friends and family.
“It’s very important you closely guard your personal information. Delete any email or hang up on a phone call you receive out of the blue that is asking for your personal information — even if it purports to be from a well-known business or government organisation you have previously dealt with and trust."
“If you think your information has been stolen by a scammer, report it to the relevant institution immediately. For example, if you think they have your bank details, get in touch with your bank; if you think they have your login to a social media account, contact that site to report it. The sooner you can act, the better,” Ms Rickard said.
For further details, go to www.scamwatch.gov.au