Did you know that Australians lost more than $83 million in scams last year? And that’s just the ones we know about.
Scams have been around since a dodgy caveman promised to return a stone axe to his neighbour, then moved away to a different savannah. But with the rise of social media, online dating and internet shopping, scammers have more ways than ever to take advantage of people.
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) tracks these scams, which are reported by everyday Australians. It also provides some helpful resources to help educate people about different types of fraud and their impact.
The ACCC’s recent National Consumer Fraud Week 2017 highlighted some of the most common ways Aussies are being fleeced of their heard-earned dollars, with online dating scams topping the list, followed closely by investment scams.
But the list is long. Some schemes involve asking for upfront payment for something that’s never delivered. Others involve buying and selling from fraudulent websites, and then there is the classic ‘you’ve inherited millions from a Nigerian prince’ type of lie.
As part of the ACCC’s campaign to prevent people falling victim to fraud, they have put together several tips, as well as ‘The Little Black Book of Scams’. Here are three of the more common traps for the unwary:
1. Online dating
Strangers contact you through dating websites or social media websites, and build a long-distance relationship. Eventually they ask for money to visit, treat an illness or help a family member, before disappearing with the funds.
What to do: Never send money to anyone you’ve never met online. Google the profile pics of anyone who seems too good to be true and see if they are genuine.
2. Investment scams
These may be presented as serious-sounding products like managed funds, property investments or superannuation schemes. But if they are a ‘get-rich-quick’ plan that’s putting pressure on you to sign up quickly and without getting advice, then you could be in trouble.
What to do: Speak to an expert if you’re not sure about whether an investment scheme is right for you. Your local YBR branch has fully qualified and licensed advisers who can help.
3. Threat and penalty scams
If you receive a phone call demanding you pay a fine you don’t remember receiving, you could be a target. These fraudsters pretend that you owe money to agencies such as the tax office, or for unpaid speeding fines or bills. They demand the money immediately, sometimes with the threat of lawyers or police.
What to do: Don’t panic. Any government agency will give you time to pay and to check your records. Always contact the alleged agency yourself and find out more details.
There are more helpful tips available from the ACCC’s Scamwatch website, or download the e-book here. And if you’re approached with a scam, report it to the ACCC so they can warn others.
If you need an independent adviser to help you make big financial decisions, speak to a licensed professional such as your local YBR branch.
[Get in touch CTA]
The information provided is general in nature and cannot be construed as financial advice. To the extent permitted by law, no liability is accepted for any loss or damage as a result of any reliance on this information. Consider your own goals, needs, objectives and financial situation before making a financial decision. You should read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and obtain independent legal and financial advice.
Home loans and other credit services are provided by Credit Representatives of Yellow Brick Road Finance Pty Limited ACN 128 708 109, Australian Credit Licence 393195. Financial Advice, Insurance, Superannuation and other financial services are provided by Authorised Representatives of Yellow Brick Road Wealth Management Pty Limited ACN 128 650 037, AFSL 323825.