Western Australians are being urged to be on the lookout for threat-based impersonation scams by taking a moment to ‘Stop and check: is this for real?’
This is the theme for this year’s Scams Awareness Week, which runs from 21–25 May 2018.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said scammers might call or email you and pretend to be from a government agency or well-known, trusted business.
“They then use threats to pressure or scare you into giving them your money or personal information,” he said. “When scammers impersonate government officials, they may say that you owe a tax debt or there are problems with your government benefits, immigration forms or visa status and that you must pay the debt or other fees to fix the issues or you’ll be arrested or deported.
“Scammers also pretend to be from organisations like Telstra, Australia Post or the police. They may ask for remote access to your computer to fix a problem or track down hackers or they may email you fake bills or fines, then threaten to cancel your service or charge you fees if you don’t do what they ask.”
Scams Awareness Week is an initiative of the Scams Awareness Network, a group of Australian and New Zealand government agencies with responsibility for consumer protection and policing in scams, cyber safety and fraud. Consumer Protection in WA is a proud member of this network.
Top Scams in 2018
1. Investment Scams
2. Dating & Romance scams
3. Other business/employment scams
Tips to protect yourself
- If you’re contacted unexpectedly and threatened by someone who says they’re from a government agency or trusted business, always consider the possibility that it may be a scam – then stop and check if it’s for real.
Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller and don’t respond to threatening emails or voicemail messages asking you to call someone back. If you do, the scammers may increase their intimidation and attempts to get your money.
If you’re unsure whether a call or email is genuine, verify the identity of the contact through an independent source, such as a phone book or online search, then get in touch with them to ask if they contacted you. Don’t use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message they sent to you.
If you’re still unsure, speak to a family member or friend about what's happened.
Never give money, bank account or credit card details or other personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust – and never by email or over the phone.
A government agency or trusted business will never ask you to pay by unusual methods such as with gift or store cards, iTunes cards, wire transfers or bitcoin.
Don’t open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails and don’t click on links or open attachments – just delete them.
Never give anyone remote access to your computer if you’re contacted out of the blue – whether through a phone call, pop up window or email – and even if they claim to be from a well-known company like Telstra.