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Vulnerable consumers lose record amounts to scammers.

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Australians love technology. We are spending more time online shopping, entering our personal details and accessing the internet on our devices. Some of us even have an auto-memory software in place in case we forget our passwords.

Anybody using the internet and electronic devices needs to be aware of the increasing threat of scammers. Recently, scammers have been impersonating your favourite businesses or even the police and the Australian Taxation Office. They want to gain access to your computer and steal money or banking information.

Australians who are older, Indigenous or have disability reported record losses in 2018 according to the ACCC's annual Targeting Scams report released last week. Older Australians looking to grow their nest eggs but who instead get caught up in investment scams reported losses of $7.6 million, and those misled through fake relationships reported losses of $5.8 million to dating and romance scams.

“Scammers will start with a cold call to their victim promising low-risk investments for high returns. They may spend months grooming their victims and once a victim invests, they’re quickly convinced to put more and more money in. As soon as the victim tries to cash in on their investment, the scammer quickly disappears,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

You can avoid becoming a victim of scammers by knowing how to protect your information and your devices. Learning more on the scams that are being used can empower you to avoid being caught. Some of the scams are as follows:

  • Hoax messages: emails, text messages or internet pop ups that direct you to fake websites which prompt you to reveal personal information.
  • Malware: software that can monitor where you go online and record your keystrokes which means it can record your confidential passwords, logins and other personal information.
  • Fake phone surveys:  contact you and ask questions to try and trick you into revealing personal information.
  • Website scams: targeting many people by running a scam that sounds “too good to be true”.
  • Phone porting: switching your phone to another provider without permission to gain access to your calls and text messages.

Please note:  The Bank will:

  • Never ask for your Internet Banking login details or credit card details via phone or email
  • Never use email to send you a link to an Internet Banking login page
  • Never ask you to communicate your passwords to us in any form

 

Security tips

There are some good practices and simple actions that may reduce personal information being compromised.

  • Lock it – set a password on your device so that no one else can use or view the information. Also store your device in a secure location.
  • Contact your bank if you lose your phone or tablet – call your bank immediately to tell staff about the loss and provide your new number.
  • Be careful what you send via text message – never send personal information via message.
  • Only use official internet banking apps – those from your bank.
  • Install and keep up to date anti-virus and firewall software purchased from trusted suppliers.
  • Protect your passwords – keep your PIN and passwords confidential. Avoid using the same password for multiple websites. If your banking app allows a PIN, make sure it’s different than the one you use to unlock your mobile device. Make sure your password or code is hard for others to guess but easy for you to remember.
  • Read privacy policies – before you provide personal information to any website, understand how your information will be used and how long it will be retained. To view Unity Bank’s privacy policy click here
  • Be wary of free downloads, programs, software or screensavers – sometimes malware and spyware can be hidden in free offers.
  • Check your bank statements – contact your bank if you find any unusual or suspicious transactions.
  • Always log out of internet banking.

Unfortunately, scammers are becoming more sophisticated and see opportunities whenever money is involved, and they will always seek new ways to steal and commit fraud. At Unity Bank, rest assured that your financial wellbeing is always our top priority along with the security and safety of your banking. These tips are here to help you build a better defence against scammers.

Don’t forget to check out www.scamwatch.gov.au for more tips as they become available.