We would all like to think that we are familiar with common scams, and that our money is going to be safe. However, in spite of this, a record number of funds has been lost by Australians as scammers continue to evolve and adapt. The end of the financial year tends to be one of the primary hotspots for new scammers. This is the time of the year where many people are completing tax returns and hoping for a lovely end of year tax refund.
However, it’s also the time scammers are on the phone trying to convince people that they’re either entitled to a tax refund and need to provide bank details…or they owe the ATO money and they’re about to be jailed. Most people recognise these for what they are – scams. However, as some people are still falling for these tricks, they continue to happen. If you are ever called by the ATO or Human Services, they will never threaten you with arrest or tell you to buy iTunes or gift cards. If you ever receive a call like this, disconnect immediately. If you’re unsure about it, contact the ATO or Human Services directly.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) keeps an eye on the types of scams that are happening each year. Far and away the most ‘profitable’ scams are investment scams. In 2019 alone, Australians have lost over $44 million dollars in investment scams. Considering the year is still going, and only $39 million was lost in these scams last year, that figure is highly concerning. This type of scam includes cold calls offering financial or investment advice, share promotions, investment seminars and superannuation scams where they’re attempting to convince you to access your super early.
After investment scams, the next most common is in the area of dating and romance with total losses of over $17 million in this year to date. Over one-third of this money has been scammed through Social Networking with the highest amount being lost by those in the 55-64 age bracket. These type of scams include:
• Sending money overseas because the partner’s money is ‘locked up in legal issues’ or a similar excuse
• Blackmail, as people have sent compromising photos of themselves
• Transferring money for someone else…which actually turns out to be part of a money laundering strategy
Never let anyone pressure you into making decisions you’re unsure about in relation to your finances. Seek advice if you’d like any further information or if someone attempts to scam you. And always remember the old adage – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Important information – If you have accidentally provided your personal information to a scammer, contact the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk (Monday to Friday) on 1800 941 126 or report it to the ACCC via https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/about-scamwatch/scam-statistics?scamid=all&date=2019