There are plenty of scams out there that aim to get your personal information.

According to Scamwatch by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), Australians lost over $300m in scams last year, with over 280,000 reports of scams made in 2021 alone.

Most scams are made via phone call, text message and email; and tech-savvy older Australians are often a target for scammers, as they might be more financially comfortable.

Scammers are also getting smarter, taking advantage of technology and major events such as COVID-19 to create believable stories and convince you to hand over money or details.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, and there’s plenty of information out there to avoid getting stung. At Feros Care, our Let’s Get Technical service offers individual technology training, with our Technical Support Officers supporting seniors to develop trust in technology and learn the skills they’d like to be across.

We’ve asked our experts about the three top online scams that are currently doing the rounds, and how you can protect yourself from each.

1. Imposter scams

This is when you receive a text message, email or phone call from someone claiming to be a business or government organisations.

At the moment, some very common imposter scams involve the scammer pretending to be Australia Post, Amazon, MyGov or the ATO.

It’s important to look carefully here and triple-check anything before clicking on links and attachments, or offering any information.

Here are some top tips from Feros Care experts to avoid imposter scams.

  • Don’t answer the phone to an unknown number. If an organisation really needs to get in touch, they can leave a voicemail and you can think about it.
  • Verify the identity of the sender by calling the relevant organisation. Find their phone number independently through the phone book or online search. This is a good way to check, for example, if your bank really needs to speak with you.
  • If in doubt, search for the scam on Google. Google can correctly identify many scams making the rounds.
  • Never send money, credit card details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.

2. Lottery scams

We’d all love to wake up to a surprise million dollars, but text messages aren’t usually the way of getting your dream Lotto win.

If you receive a notification claiming that you’ve won any kind of money – or any other kind of prize, such as a home, tropical holiday or a laptop - it’s likely a sweepstake scam.

The scammers try to trick you into giving money upfront, or your personal information, for a lottery or a competition that you never entered. They’ll also often include some urgency to inspire you to hand over money faster.

Our Feros Care technology experts mention that it’s worth remembering:

  • If you didn’t enter a competition – you haven’t won!
  • If you are asked to buy a ticket or pay a fee to claim any kind of prize, it’s likely a scam.

3. Online romance

This is most heartbreaking scam of all. Scammers might find kind-hearted people via dating apps and social media platforms.

They’ll often develop a strong relationship before asking for money to help with costs associated with illness, injury, travel or another kind of crisis. And they can play the long game – sometimes taking months to ask for cash!

The Feros Care tech experts suggest…

  • Think twice before accepting a friend request from someone you don’t know.
  • If you begin speaking with someone online, watch out for inconsistencies in their story; people who aren’t willing to video chat, or who claim they are overseas or in serving in the army and mostly unavailable.
  • If in doubt, you can do a reverse google search on their images to see if they have stolen them from others online. 

Quick tips for avoiding scams

In general, according to Feros Care tech guru Sunny Patel, there are some key things you can do as a starting point for avoiding scams:

  • Avoiding writing your usernames and passwords down anywhere where someone might see them – such as a post-it note on the device itself.
  • Change your passwords every three to six months and avoid anything that might be easily guessed.
  • Double-check web addresses by looking at the URL. If it has a little lock next to it, and a secure address – for example, if it starts with https:// - it’s most likely the real deal.

What happens if you have given away your information?

It might seem harmless if someone can guess your username and password, but as Sunny mentions, they can use this to log into your email account and email your loved ones. Because it’s coming from a trusted source, your loved ones may just fall prey to a scam that they might’ve otherwise ignored.

  • If you think any of your information has gone astray, try the below:
  • Tell your family and friends
  • Contact your bank or financial institution immediately – they can stop a transaction or close your account
  • Change your online passwords
  • Report the scam to the ACCC

Want to learn more about technology, how to use it, and how to trust it? Click here to find out more about our Let’s Get Technical service. 

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