Experts Angle: Helping you stay safe from scammers.
Keeping your personal details safe means, you could save yourself from the pain of losing some or all your money to scammers.
Greg Gebhart from the ESafety Commissioner talks through a number of common questions from what a scam is, to different types of scams and what you can do to help protect you and your money from scammers.
Lisa Gissing (LG): Hello everyone and welcome to our webinar, helping you stay safe from scammers. My name is Lisa Gissing from Westpac’s Davidson Institute. Now before we begin, I’d like to acknowledge the many traditional owners of the lands in which we meet, the people and pay my respects to elders both and present.
LG: I also acknowledge and pay respects to those here today who identify as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and recognise the diversity of indigenous peoples, countries and culture in Australia. As Australia’s first bank we acknowledge our role in supporting an inclusive and diverse nation where all of our cultural backgrounds are recognised and respected.
LG: So, today’s webinar is a timely reminder of the importance of keeping your personal details safe. Keeping them safe means you could save yourself from the pain of losing some or all of your money. Now we are very lucky today to be speaking with Greg Gebhart who is a senior education officer and trainer with the e-safety commissioner’s office and is here to answer some of the questions we have around scams. So welcome Greg.
Greg Gebhart (GG): Hi Lisa. How are you going?
LG: Greg is one of Australia’s leading online safety presenters. Greg has provided presentations to more than 800,000 participants at state, national and international events. He has a strong background in leadership and change and has head senior positions including Regional Manager for the Victorian Industry and Education partnerships and is chair of his regional adult education board.
LG: Greg has been recognised for his achievements and passion for helping others receiving a global achievement award through the International Society of Technology in education. So welcome Greg and certainly a wonderful introduction. You certainly come with a lot of knowledge and background to help us today.
LG:So today we’ve got a number of common questions for Greg to cover off. So, without further ado let's get into it. So, first of all Greg. What is a scam?
GG: Well I guess there's a lot of different types of scams out there at the moment and it's really someone trying to deceive you or trick you and the endgame is generally to get your money to try and get into your finances. Sometimes it could be to deceive you to get goods or products that you've got and in other cases probably even identify theft and what does it mean if someone steals your identity.
GG: They could pretend to be you to then scam someone else who is more likely to hand over money to a family member or someone who is known. I think the big challenge with these scams is that some of them are pretty easy to pick but some are quite sophisticated. I’ve had a few times where I’ve had to re-read things two or three times over and over again. But one thing I will say about scams is they can happen to anyone.
GG: You can be in the rural areas of Australia, in the remote areas and as long as you have internet access or phone access. You can be in the big cities. But those scams are very clever at tricking us and certainly as you mentioned before the last thing you want to do is lose a lot of our money to something that we thought was going to be advantage to us but we got tricked out of it.
LG: What are some of the different types of scams out there?
GG: Well there's quite a lot of different types we've come across. One of them is called phishing scams, and it’s spelt a bit funny with a ph for phishing. And the ones I tend to get are ones like emails coming in and the email looks like it comes from a bank. Could even replicate the Westpac bank. It could be any of the other services. And they really steal the icons, they copy documentation and send them.
GG: Another common one is you have a parcel that is waiting to be delivered and we went to drop it off and you weren’t home so the scammers try to get you to give your credit card out to pay for another delivery. We’ve even seen with the Australian Taxation Office being replicated and people being told that they are going to get a tax refund and this money will come in, they just have to pay for it to be sent to them.
GG: So that’s probably the general type of phishing scams. We’ve seen a lot of fake charities happening. And when the bushfires were on last year and early this year at Christmas. Lots of scammers pretending to be from fire services around Australia asking for money.
GG: This year the big scams are around COVID-19. I’ve even received these myself – a message on my mobile phone to say that one of my friends is a close contact to someone with COVID - 19 and I need to get tested but I need to tested but I need to give all my personal details and it was quite difficult to tell that that was actually a scam.
GG: The one thing about scams is that they are more effective if they can play on your emotions. So, they are going to try and design the thing around current things like bushfires, like COVID -19. There’s a few others I want to go through as well because there is lots to share with you.
GG: Another common one people get, and sometimes this is through Facebook, and sometimes it’s generally through an email and it says that you’ve inherited some money from a relative. And it doesn’t really give clear details about who that relative is but you’re going to get some money and you just need to pay for the funds to be sent to you.
GG: Or even in some cases it’s a lottery that you’ve won and you didn’t realise that the ticket wasn’t claimed from some time ago with a Tatts Lotto type thing and they're going to send the money, you just have to pay for the courier fee.
GG: And of course, if you give out your personal details or credit card details, you’re going to get caught out. This is a pretty simple one. If you didn’t enter the competition you probably haven’t won it. But that’s, I guess, one of those things you can see. And sometimes they’re saying you might have overpaid something, we’re going to give you a refund.
GG: Another one that we see and this is probably the most common one for older Australians and again the fact that in some households we have landlines and scammers get on the phone and they start doing what we call cold calling.
GG: I’ve had a couple of these lately where there is a private number and as soon as they started talking on there I’ve realised it’s a scam. They’ve told me things like my computer is not working properly. It’s got a virus and it’s causing issues for the local community and I need to do something about it.
GG: Although today, I had a scammer call from a private number and I umm-ed and ahh-ed about whether to answer. When I picked it up, it was actually my doctor doing telehealth. So, I nearly did the wrong thing today which was one of those things which means it's really hard to tell. You can't tell when the scammers are there.
GG: A couple of others that we’ve seen lately is friendship scams and even online dating. A lot of people say “Well I’d never fall for that. I’m not involved in that area.” But sometimes the friendship scams work the same way. And they might use programs like Words with Friends or Online Scrabble to play games on the internet. And it’s a long drawn out period of trying to get your information or money.
GG: There’s quite a few surveys that come out of the internet. And I’ve seen some of these coming through with quizzes and things asking for a lot of personal information. And again, when you’re getting things that are asking for that content, we’ve got to make a judgement whether we should.
GG: And probably the one where people have lost the most money has been investment scams. So, the fact that you can give them $1,000 and they are going to guarantee a return of $5,000 within six months - so it’s easy money and they’ve got fake websites hidden in the background.
GG: You can talk to their manager which is another scammer. And maybe three or four of them doing the rouse to trick you. You're guaranteed you're going to get a lot of money and the reality is you’re not going to get anything at all. In fact, the money you invest will disappear. So, you can see the challenge for everyone. There are so many different types of scams and they all work different ways.
GG: So being educated about them and listening to our webinar today I hope can make a big difference to people.
LG: Great information there. So, one of, I guess, the common questions that we often get, and you eluded to it in your last answer, is “How do I spot all these myriad of different scams that are out there?”
GG: Yeah well, I’ve got a few tips for people to think about in here. When you get emails that come through, or sometimes text messages, asking for information or for you to fill in something, it could be that your mobile phone plan is about to expire and you need to redo your credit card number so that you can actually have that extended.
GG: It could be that your credit card from the bank … the fake email says that your credit card is about to go out date. You need to put your personal details in. The most common thing with those is they don’t have your name on there. They are sent to a million people and we tend to panic because we think “I’m going to lose my credit card and my phone won’t work” so we’re trying to quickly put in the information to see what happens.
GG: They generally have something like ‘Dear client’ or ‘Dear customer’. They don’t have your address. They don't have your phone account number or if it’s a scam around electricity or that they don’t have your details.
GG: So, the first this is you’ve got to make sure it’s got all your details so that we can evaluate whether it’s from a real organisation. Of course, if I did get something that came through that I was a bit suspicious about I would not be doing anything on the page. I would not be ringing the phone number. If it was coming from Westpac bank and pretending to be the Westpac bank and I wasn’t sure, I’d just either go to my local branch or I’d ring them up to clarify.
GG: The other thing you could look for is the email address on different programs. Sometimes you’ll notice if you look at it and sometimes you can expand it to see it. It doesn’t finish with an Australian website. So often a lot of Australian sites end in .com.au and you might see them with just .com meaning it’s coming from America or it could have another couple of letters on the end which means it’s an international site.
GG: So, looking at website links that they send you. Sometimes they are from overseas. Another trick you could do, is if you get something that says click here or it even has an address to go to, you can hover your mouse or your finger over the top of the details and it will actually tell you where it’s going to.
GG: So even though it might say click on this link to go to the site at .com.au. It’s actually going somewhere else and you can actually hover over the top to see it. One that a few people have been really distressed by is a phone call saying they're going to be arrested and you’re going to be arrested for not paying a fine or not paying an amount of money for the taxation and that and again this is a real panic thing and people tend to worry.
GG: I think if there was an issue you probably know well beforehand if you've done something wrong and these threats to play with your emotions to force you to basically pay money. “Look you’re going to be arrested unless you pay $100 to get proceedings happening to stop.”
GG: Again, trying to get you in that unsettled state to pay the money. One of the big ones people just asking for money. So, you’ve had a friendship online for a while and someone says “Well I’ve got to have an operation I can’t afford could you lend me some money? I’ve got some inheritance coming soon.” So, they often pretend they’ve got money and they just can’t get it at the moment.
GG: So, I always think if someone asks me for money unless it is a really close family member, I'm probably going to say no straight away realising there some type of scam in there.
GG: Also, we’ve seen a few online surveys and quizzes. They sometimes ask for personal information so I’m a bit careful in there. But I’m going to say my biggest way to spot a scam is gut feeling. If you feel that something is not right. If your read it and think “Oh, that doesn’t make sense. They are asking for money. Why would they be doing that? I’m going to get rich really quick. How come I’m going to get rich and they’re not?”
GG: That gut feeling is the one for me. If it doesn’t seem right, then it’s probably not right. If you didn’t enter a ticket in the, lotto you haven’t won a prize.
LG: Certainly some great tips there. So, I guess on a lot of people’s minds are "Well how do I now protect myself from these scams?"
GG: Yeah that’s a good point. We can recognise them, but we want try and reduce the prevalence of those things occurring. One of the most important things for anything online is a strong password and your strong security. So, when we talk about having strong passwords try not to have common things like password as your password or numbers like 123456. Criminals know that they’re common uses by people who don't understand technology.
GG: So, we’ve got to come up with something that’s hard to guess but easy for you to remember. Also, if your phone or your computer comes through with a message from maybe Apple or from the Samsung or android system to say it needs to update. Or there’s a major Windows update. You should update. Because most of those are about security patches.
GG: Also, when someone just asks for personal information online, decide whether you want to give it out or not. I’m pretty much protecting my details by not putting too much online. If you do have someone that does contact you and you’ve been chatting to them for a while and your sort of trusting and then something makes you feel a bit uncomfortable.
GG: I suggest that you could go on to Google and do a bit of a search. You might search their name. You might do an image search so you can always search by a photo to see if you can find that person there. If they say they are from an organisation, go to Google and find the organisation. Don’t go to the phone number on the email. Go to the organisation, ring and see if this is true.
GG: If you’re not sure about how to do all that searching grab your kids or grandkids. They’re pretty good at looking for stuff up online. Also, if you do get these phone calls from people saying we’re from a computer company to fix your computer. The NBN’s coming, we’re going to give you access to it. Of course, the NBN doesn’t sell internet. That’s a bit of a trick. They might pretend they are from Optus or Telstra.
GG: Sometimes you’re going to get attachments. So, an email comes in and it's got a file on it and it’s tempting to click on it to have a look. But I'm going to say that that's one thing we shouldn't be doing. Try to stay clear of any attachments or anything to click on. And again, I’ll go back to my last slide. That gut feeling. If you’re thinking that something’s coming in. Don’t keep clicking, don’t keep putting information. It’s the best way to protect yourself.
LG: Some great information there. Now if you’ve been unfortunately affected by scams, what are some of the things and what should I do if I think I have been scammed? GG: Yeah well one of the things that we have found from people being scammed both through organisations and even law enforcement who are trying to follow up, catching the perpetrators. People often feel quite embarrassed. It’s embarrassing to tell your family that you got caught out for a simple scam.
GG: “I should have known better” and those areas. So, I think one of the really important things is to tell someone. Whether it’s someone in your community, support service or even if you have to go to local police. It is a crime. And if you have been a victim it’s important to tell someone about that.
GG: But there’s a whole lot of other things that I think you need to do as well as telling someone. If you think there is someone doing the wrong thing or trying to trick you on social media like Facebook or Instagram or any other program that you’re using. Report that person to the social media site. Because that’s not just about protecting yourself, you’ve got friends and others there who sometimes have a chance of being scammed as well. So you can help them out.
GG: There is a great website to find out about scams and to report them called Scamwatch. The website is scamwatch.gov.au There is a lot of information on there about the most common scams. And also tells you which ones have been the most prevalent in the last couple of months or so. And it has the ability to report a scam, so it gets on the radar for the organisations looking for the current trending scams in there.
GG: If you think it’s had something to do with your bank or financial institution it is really important to contact them and they can cancel your credit cards or put a hold on things.
GG: And again, if you do think anything has happened in those areas ring those organisations straight away. They are very good at locking it down and that. And if you think your details have been compromised, there’s another website running out of Australia called idcare.org. So it doesn’t have a country extension because it is working across the world but idcare.org can tell you if those things have been leaked out.
GG: But it is important to tell someone and it is important to contact your agencies. Also, if it isn’t an account or whichever you think has been compromised we need to make sure that we have changed our passwords and keep ourself secure. As I say the most important thing is, it is embarrassing but it is important to tell someone if you think that’s happened.
LG: So, we’ve certainly covered off a lot today and thank you very much Greg. We started with what’s a scam. Then we moved through some of the different types of scams. You had some great tips around how to spot a scam. A couple of things around how to protect yourself so you don’t also become the victim of scams. And then finally what do you do if you think you have been scammed by one of these.
LG: So, in closing let me thank you Greg very much for your knowledge and handy hints today. And to our listeners thank you very much for joining us today for our webinar, helping you stay safe from scammers. We trust you found this information useful and relevant. Thanks again. Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your day.
GG: Thank you very much.