The rise in Phishing Scams & how to avoid them
Victorians are being warned to be alert for phishing scams following a 20 per cent jump in reported losses last year compared with 2017.
Phishing scams are attempts to trick you into giving out personal information such as your bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers.
Crime Stoppers Victoria is partnering with Consumer Affairs Victoria to help stamp out scams. The Don’t get reeled in campaign, launching today across Victoria, raises awareness of phishing scams and the impact they have on our community.
In 2018, phishing scams were the most common scams reported to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. Of the 24,291 reports only 357 (or 1.5 per cent) resulted in financial loss, demonstrating that the purpose of these scams is to obtain information rather than money.
Consumer Affairs Victoria Executive Director, Sam Jenkin, is reminding all Victorians to think twice before providing their personal details online.
“Phishing scammers may contact you by phone, email, text message or social media. They pretend to be a business that you have an account with – such as your bank, phone company or internet provider – and ask you to provide or confirm your personal details,” he said.
“To protect yourself, don’t provide any information. Contact the business independently to check whether the call or message is genuine.”
Crime Stoppers Victoria CEO, Stella Smith, said the consequences of phishing scams can be catastrophic and can go far deeper than just financial loss.
“It can include things like identity theft, passwords being stolen and bad credit ratings. They can have extreme emotional implications for those affected,” she said.
“Victims may not even know that they have been a victim of a phishing scam until months, even years, after the event.”
For more information visit consumer.vic.gov.au/scamsavvy
(based on reports to Consumer Affairs Victoria – names have been changed to protect privacy)
Case study #1
Joe received an email purporting to be from an attorney. The attorney proposed to represent Joe as a next of kin to claim an inheritance from an unrelated person with the same surname who allegedly died with no heirs and no will. The attorney sought to share 50 per cent of the $10.5 million USD allegedly left behind by the deceased person.
The attorney requested Joe’s contact details and banking details to make the necessary arrangements. Luckily for Joe he was aware of this inheritance scam, so he did not disclose any personal information, nor has he paid any money to the scammers.
Case study #2
Mary received a call from a ‘Centrelink agent’ informing her she was owed money. To get her refund, the agent advised she had to register by paying him $400 in iTunes vouchers. Mary provided the agent with her personal details and agreed to go to the shops the next morning to purchase the vouchers. The agent provided Mary with a number to call back once she had the vouchers. Subsequently Mary did some online research and found it was a scam, so she did not purchase the vouchers. However, she was concerned how her personal details may be used.
Case study #3
Vince received a text saying “your NAB account has been temporarily blocked for unusual GPRS activity. Please confirm your device at: nab-admin.com and follow the unlock procedure.” He is not a NAB customer so did not follow the link. He reported the incident to CAV in the hope others would not fall into the trap.