February 16, 2016

Stay a step ahead of scams

A senior tenant recently told us they received a call from a man claiming to be from the ATO wanting payment for unpaid tax. They were worried the caller, who was even bold enough to leave a voice message, might have been a scammer. They are right!

It’s a sad fact of life these days that there are people who spend much of their time and energy trying to scam money from others – usually from people who are elderly or vulnerable. They know all the tricks in the book to make their scams look convincing and sadly people fall for them every day.

The good news is there are ways you can protect yourself against scammers. The first and most important defence is to be aware. Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you via phone, email, letter or in person and claims to be from a large company or government agency wanting your personal details or to pay money. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Your best bet is to either ignore these requests or try to determine if they are valid. You can do this by contacting the Consumer Protection advice line on 1300 30 40 54 (for the cost of a local call). They will be able to tell you whether or not you’ve been targeted by a scammer. Forward any suspicious emails to wascamnet@commerce.wa.gov.au and send any odd letters to:

WA ScamNet – Consumer Protection
Reply Paid 64772
Locked Bag 14
Cloisters Square
Western Australia 6850

Here are a few other helpful tips:
• Always keep your personal details secure.
• Don’t respond to suspicious enquiries. Hang up. Delete. Shut the door.
• If you have a computer, make sure you have up-to-date firewall software installed. Change your passwords regularly.
• Never open email attachments from someone you don’t personally know.
• When you have to pay for something online, only do so using a secure payment service. Look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal.