The anguish of losing your money to a scam is beyond compare. The obvious question is: how many times must we be told to be careful before we learn the lesson?
ACCORDING to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in 2022, Australians lost a record $3.1 billion, possibly $4 billion to scammers, an 80 per cent increase from 2021. It is estimated at least 30 per cent of scams are not reported. Those aged 65-plus are most vulnerable to the fraud, and are losing more.
At the risk of sounding pedantry: If something sounds too good to be true, you can bet your bottom-dollar, it is!
The despair of being left penniless is overwhelming. At the wrong-end of my life I found myself with 16-cents in the bank. It was an unsettling moment. Fortunately, I have a capacity to earn reasonable amounts of money, and while the recovery process may prove protracted, it is achievable. For those less blessed, it is a life-altering dilemma which leaves some people facing penury; a life of economic misery.
The number of scamming emails circulating at the present is troubling. Regularly, an email arrives advising my Norton antivirus protection has expired, and I should take immediate action to prevent my computer from exploding! These days I ignore it. I do not use Norton, and the sending of abusive replies has lost its appeal.
The more disturbing messages are those purporting to come from the Australian Tax Office and the MyGov website; neither of whom would, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, send you an email asking for personal details, passwords, bank account numbers, or a demand to pay outstanding amounts.
The ATO DOES NOT send an SMS with a “click link” to receive your tax refund. Categorically, you should DELETE, immediately.
The solution is simple: DO NOT PANIC! Do not respond immediately. NEVER open an unsolicited, dubious email. If in doubt, speak with a family member or call the police; or telephone the relevant government department/bank helpline. However urgent or dire the email might claim to be, the ATO and MyGov will not react if they do not receive an immediate answer. In the event of needing to contact you, it will be done following a practiced protocol.
Never agree to transfer money, and NEVER allow a stranger to take remote control of your computer.
No matter the content of the email, or the phone caller’s determination, NEVER, EVER, give your bank details to anyone. You are best advised to ignore spam emails, or to hang-up on the caller. If you think it may be genuine, you should telephone or visit your bank, immediately, to talk with the manager, or a member of the staff.
If the caller persists, ask for the request in writing, then hang-up. DO NOT pursue the conversation.
Scams are multifarious and endless. The internet is a paradise for ruthless thieves waiting to pounce. They continue to develop new and ingenious schemes to relieve you of your money. Their ploys are skilled and sophisticated. You cannot be too careful. It is your responsibility to be vigilant, constantly. The computer is a wonderful and irreplaceable tool, but technology has changed our lives irrevocably. You cannot afford to be too trusting. Accept nothing on face value.
You have to accept responsibility. It is too late once your account has been drained. You cannot expect your financial institution to be liable for your errors in judgement.
If in doubt, tell them to go-away, which is spelt with a silent ‘F’.
Roland is heard with Brett MacDonald on 3BA on Mondays at 10.45 and can be contacted via [email protected].