We all spend so much time online these days, either on our computers and/or phones, and there are many scammers out there just waiting to lure you in. According to the ACCC, in 2021, Australians lost more than $2 billion to scammers. Reported losses totalled almost $1.8 billion, but as one-third of victims do not report scams, the ACCC estimates actual losses were well over $2 billion. Investment scams were the highest loss category ($701 million) in 2021, followed by payment redirection scams ($227 million), and romance scams ($142 million).
With those scary numbers in mind, here are the most important things you should do if you think you’ve been scammed.
1. Contact your bank or financial institution
If you’ve sent money to a scammer via a credit or debit card, or bank transfer, or if you discover any unauthorised charge or transfer from your bank account, call your bank right away to report the incident. Ask them to stop any future transactions you might have set up with the recipient or freeze your account to avoid further infractions.
If you’ve used a money transfer app like PayPal, and the like, report it to the app developers and ask them if they can still stop the payment. If you’ve sent a crypto transfer, call the platform immediately. However, it’s highly unlikely to recover cryptocurrencies.
2. Change your passwords
As soon as you recognise that your computer or phone is compromised, change your passwords immediately. Do the same to all your online accounts – bank accounts, money transfer apps, and any app or cloud-based service that you wouldn’t want a malicious third party to access. Hackers are usually very sophisticated in the dark talents they use, and they can easily manipulate your passwords. So, make sure you change them regularly and avoid using the same passwords for different accounts.
3. Set up an extra layer of protection
Most banks these days encourage you to make use of their fraud guards to protect your bank accounts. Usually this just means going into your online settings and adding extra security, so you need to confirm a password that’s sent by text or email to you whenever you request a bank transfer to a new recipient, or for a large amount.
4. Report the data breach to the appropriate channels
A data breach is when your personal information, like name, phone, address, email, etc., fall into the wrong hands. If this happens to you, contact IDCARE on 1800 595160 or visit their website. They will help you create a plan to mitigate the situation, and prevent further damage.
You should also contact the Department of Home Affairs to apply for a Commonwealth Victims certificate. It can support your claim that you’ve been a victim of identity theft, so you can redeem your credentials with financial institutions and the government itself.
5. Avoid further scams
Being scammed once is more than enough. Here are the steps you should take to avoid it from happening again:
6. Keep an eye out for follow-up scams
If you’ve already been scammed, you will most likely be on their list for follow-up scams since you’ve already proved to be a useful source of income. Here are the signs to keep an eye on so you can avoid becoming a victim again:
Scammers are experts in their field. They are so good at what they do - it’s often hard to recognise their tricks. We hope these tips will help you spot a potential scam, and take quick action if you think you’ve already been scammed. But most importantly, always be vigilant and never let your guard down when you’re online.
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