Did you know that the peak time for fraud is actually during our festive season? When you think about it, it does make sense. It’s a time where we all use our bank accounts and credit cards the most, our lives become incredibly hectic with end of year celebrations, holidays, end of school etc and we all feel as though we lose track of everything! The fraudsters have worked this out and are becoming more sophisticated and clever with their schemes. Not only do you need to be mindful of credit fraud but there is also the serious crime of identity fraud. Here are the main differences:
This is where criminals try to do such things as:
- Illegally access your bank account and steal your money/available credit limit
- Convince you to transfer money to them in return for a larger sum of money
- Ask you to assist them with moving a large sum of money (so you act as a “money mule”)
There have been a lot of these scams occurring in Australia for some time but they are becoming more frequent and deceivingly sophisticated. Despite how they initially contact you (whether it be via mail, e-mail, text or telephone call) you must treat any call requesting your bank account details or asking for money to be transferred as suspicious. We all dream of being wealthy but the reality of a long lost relative leaving you a large sum of money in a foreign country, a war fighter needing to transfer millions of dollars to a safe haven or a simple “refund” from the Australian Banking Association where you need to give them money first….is just too good to be true.
This is where criminals are after your financial identity. They want to build a profile of you, collecting lots of your personal information so they can access credit in your name, including loans and properties. This is particularly frightening as sometimes people don’t even know they have been a victim until they next apply for some credit and are refused because of all of the activity on their credit report. Recently there have even been houses sold without the owners knowing…a frightening but clearly achievable situation. Here are some great security tips recommended by the Australian Banker’s Association:
- Don’t provide your PIN or Internet banking login or password to anyone
- Delete spam and scam e-mails, if they sound too good to be true – they are definitely scams!
- Install and keep your anti-virus and firewall software up-to-date
- Always logon to Internet banking by typing in your bank’s full web address, i.e. the URL
- Don’t use public computers for Internet banking, for example, Internet cafes, libraries or hotels
- Guard your identity information carefully and only provide to trusted people and entities – such as your date of birth, current address, driver’s license number and passport details
- Be cautious about unsolicited offers or opportunities offering you the chance of making easy money
- Be wary of offers from people/companies overseas as it makes it harder to check if they are bona fide
- Take steps to verify any company which makes you a job offer, for example, address, phone number, e-mail address and website. You should check if it is a registered company in Australia
- Never give your confidential banking details to anyone
- Always guard your personal information and be suspicious if someone asks for a host of personal details soon after contact
- Be wary of a person asking for financial assistance – be aware if you send money by wire transfer these funds cannot be recovered by banks
- Be cautious of someone asking for details of your financial status – do not provide the information
So please remember to protect your finances and identity this festive season, and ensure you don’t join the long list of Australians who sadly have had to learn this lesson the hard way.