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Latest Scam Alert: Scammers follow flood-impacted communities

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Published on March 25 2021

We are urging our flood-impacted Members to be on the lookout for scammers posing as Government employees, insurers or charity groups working hard to restore impacted communities. Scammers can easily take advantage of the rapid pace and trauma of natural disasters in a time of uncertainty by impersonating organisations and manipulating emotions. Hearing about bushfires, floods, cyclones or earthquakes can motivate us to give, but for scammers it’s an opportunity to take.

Insurance claims on the rise

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, over 5,000 insurance claims were lodged over the weekend, with insurers aiming to speed up the processing of claims for flood-impacted policyholders.

“Brazen scammers will not hesitate to pose as policyholders and intercept cash payments through fraudulent emails and SMS."

“With this natural disaster impacting densely populated areas in NSW and Queensland, we may well see a higher number of insurance claims and requests for government assistance than the 2020 bushfires."

“Scammers will closely follow this disaster and target payments that are essential to recovery, whether funding temporary accommodation, replacing essential items, or rebuilding homes.”

Deceitful tactics scammers use

Following the bushfires from 2019, a fraudulent SMS declared: “Centrelink has processed your Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment. Payment will be made to your account within 48 hours”.

This was followed by texts and phone calls informing that government payments had been made in error with instructions and required to return the money. People were also asked for their personal information including their bank account numbers.

As a result, bank accounts were emptied of funds and identities were stolen within a few minutes, paving the way for even more crimes. Scammers can easily create fake government department icons, brands and imitating email and SMS. It’s vital to remember that government departments will never randomly phone or send text messages for a benefit claim.

Protect yourself by following the advice below

  • Be cautious of all approaches you did not initiate, especially if you are asked to send money online.
  • Confirm the identity of the contact by calling the organisation directly. Do not hesitate to respond to the contact if you’re not 100% sure.
  • Do not disclose personal information in a phone call, such as sharing your bank account screen, reading out passwords, or providing login details to MyGov.
  • Trusted organisations will not ask for an upfront payment to process recovery payments. Requests from Services Australia and government departments can be verified with a call to special hotlines made available on their websites.
  • Consider your local post office. When internet services are disrupted, print and post with your post office is a trusted option.
  • Only donate to legitimate registered official charities. Verify the charity through the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commissions website.

If you believe you have received a phone call of this nature and have given your personal information to the suspicious caller, please let us know IMMEDIATELY on 1300 36 2000.

Source: Customer Owned Banking Association

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