Scams Awareness Week
Scams Awareness Week is an annual education and awareness initiative of the Scams Awareness Network, supported by Westpac.
This Scams Awareness Week (12-16 August), we urge you to test whether you can spot a scam or are likely to be impacted by a scam, by asking, are you… “Too smart to be scammed?”
Scams cost Australians, businesses and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each year and cause serious emotional harm to victims and their families.
In 2018, Australians submitted more than 378,000 scam reports to government reporting agencies, with total losses exceeding $489 million*.
At Westpac, we're working all the time to better safeguard your financial and personal information. The below information can help you to better protect yourself against scams.
* As reported in the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting scams report.
It’s easier to spot a scam if you know what to look for.
Be careful if:
- someone you don’t know contacts you out of the blue, including via social media
- someone asks you to pay for something or give them money via unusual payment methods such as gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrencies
- someone you’ve never met in person asks for money or other financial help
- something sounds too good to be true – like an online shopping deal or you’ve won a competition, have unclaimed inheritance, or been invited to invest in an ‘amazing’ scheme
- someone asks you to pay for something in advance – especially via an unusual payment method
- someone asks you for personal information – such as your bank details, passwords or access codes, or access to your computer
- someone pressures you into buying something or making a decision quickly.
Here are some tips to protect yourself from scams:
- Be alert to scams - If you’ve been contacted out of the blue by an unknown person, even if they’re claiming to be from the government or a trusted business, always consider the possibility that it may be a scam.
- Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller or email, or feel pressured to act quickly – remember to take your time and never rush a decision or action. If you’re unsure, speak to a trusted friend or family member about what has happened.
- Know who you're dealing with - If you've only ever met someone online or are unsure if the business is genuine, do your research. Do a Google image search on photos or search the internet for reviews.
- Use strong, unique passwords - Do this for all of your applications and devices, including your Wi-Fi. You can even create hard-to-guess passphrases that are memorable to you.
- Don’t open anything that looks suspicious including texts, pop-up windows, or links and attachments in emails – just delete them. These can be used to ‘phish’ for your personal details or infect your computer with malicious software (malware).
- Don't allow anyone remote access to your computer unless you contacted them for a real problem you know about - even if they claim to be from a well-known company, such as a telecommunications or computer company, technical support service provider or even a bank.. Scammers will often ask you to turn on your computer to fix a problem or install a free upgrade, which is actually malware that will give them access to your passwords, personal details and other sensitive information.
- Don’t be pressured into making decisions about your money or investments - Do your own research on an investment company and check out www.moneysmart.gov.au to see if they have an Australian Financial Services Licence.
- Be wary of unusual payment requests - Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrencies.
- Don’t send money or give your bank or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust - Also never agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence.
- Beware of emails requesting changes to payment account details. Verbally validate these requests by calling a number you trust or have sourced independently - NEVER use the contact details provided in the email.
- Keep your personal details secure - Put a lock on your mailbox and shred important documents before throwing them out. Keep your passwords safe and avoid sharing personal information on social media sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to steal your identity or to target you with a scam.
- Keep your mobile devices and computers secure - Use password protection, strong passwords, update your security software and back up your content. Protect your Wi-Fi network with a password and avoid using public computers for things like online banking or activities where you are transmitting personal and financial details.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi particularly when doing online banking or sending or receiving personal information. It is not secure
- Be careful when shopping online - Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online shopping service that you know and trust. Use secure payment methods such as credit card or PayPal.
If you've lost money or given your personal details to a scammer, there are steps you can take straight away to limit the damage and protect yourself from further loss.
- If you’ve sent money or shared your banking or credit card details, contact us immediately.
- If you’ve given your personal information to a scammer, visit IDCARE (www.idcare.org), Australia and New Zealand’s not-for-profit national identity and cyber support service. IDCARE can work with you to develop a specific response plan to your situation and support you through the process.
- Take the time to warn your friends and family about these scams.
- If the scam occurred on social media, report it to the social media platform.
Register for Australian Government’s SCAMwatch email alerts to get updates on the latest types of scams targeting Australian consumers and small business.
For more information about these scams, where to get help or to report a scam, visit the Scamwatch website.