National Consumer Fraud Week 2016

National Consumer Fraud Week is taking place this week from 16 May - 22 May. An initiative of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (of which Consumer Affairs Victoria is a member), National Consumer Fraud Week raises awareness of scams and provides the community with tips and advice on how to avoid them.

Learn how to protect yourself from scams

Older Victorians are being encouraged to become more aware of scams – particularly those targeting them over the phone or online - during National Consumer Fraud Week (16-22 May). Australians aged 55 and over lost more than $21 million to scams of all types last year, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Phones (including texts and apps) were the primary contact method: the ACCC reported almost 10,000 approaches over the phone and losses of $8.6 million. However, scams via email, social networking sites and websites cost the community more, collectively accounting for $10.6 million in losses for older Australians.

Figures from Consumer Affairs Victoria show that in the first half of this financial year, the most prevalent scams targeting the Victorian community were those relating to:

  • government rebates (241 reports)
  • false billing (72 reports)
  • investment and financial matters (65 reports), and,
  • identity theft, through online communications, mobile devices or telephone calls (60 reports).

Fraud Week raises awareness of scams and provides communities with tips and advice on how to avoid them, including:

  • Do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions. Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency so the call-taker will act impulsively. They do this through short deadlines, fake emergencies or by making threats of legal action.
  • Get a second opinion. If someone is requesting money from you and you have any doubts, discuss it with a trusted and reliable third party.
  • Do not respond to emails and phone calls from strangers offering predictions on shares, investment tips, or investment advice. Talk to a financial adviser licensed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission before agreeing to anything – this might save you a lot of money.
  • Know who you’re dealing with when dating online. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met in person. If you’re approached by someone you don’t know on social media, be wary.
  • If you receive a call telling you your computer has a problem (such as from Microsoft or Telstra), it is likely to be a scam. Never allow anyone to remotely log into your computer.
  • Government agencies will generally write to you if you are entitled to money. If somebody calls you claiming to be from the Government, do not trust them. Get as much information as you can from the caller, hang up and find independent contact details for the agency they claim they represent; then call back and check.

Fraud Week is an initiative of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce, of which Consumer Affairs Victoria is a member. For more information about scams, visit Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website: https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/scams. For information helping older Victorians protect themselves from scams, visit the ACCC’s Scamwatch website: http://scamwatch.gov.au/get-help/advice-for-seniors.