The season of scams

Train consumers about the tell-tale signs of a scam, say experts

Scammers continue to be a thorn in the side for reputable businesses as company names or financial incentives are used to try and dupe customers. This has been the case for many Australian businesses lately, with customers still falling victim to these types of scams.

The four major banks reported email scams over the past few months. National Australia Bank customers, for example, were sent emails in September which claimed access to their accounts had been restricted. They were asked to call a phone number to restore account access where they were redirected to speak with a fraudster who sought access to their personal and financial information.

New South Wales Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said it received several reports of scam calls to consumers in the state offering refunds on bank fees. One senior citizen did provide her account details to a scammer but after contacting Fair Trading, cancelled the credit card.

In August, Qantas warned customers to be wary of a fake e-ticket itinerary and receipt email. At the time, a Qantas spokeswoman said the email contained a zip file attachment and did not provide a booking reference or details of the alleged travel itinerary.

IDC Australia senior market analyst Vern Hue said that fraudsters have changed their tact from a shotgun approach to a more streamlined method of targeting victims.

“The scammers conduct their attacks around convenient times such as tax return time or when university fees are due. An unsuspecting victim will think the call or email is a routine customer service protocol.”

Hue said that fraudsters take advantage of the fact that these are everyday processes which people take for granted.

Phone and Internet based scammers also masquerade – often very convincingly – as a financial institution, local council or education provider informing that there has been a fraud perpetrated and their co-operation is needed.

“If it's claimed that you are a victim of fraud, call the organisation's help line and talk to someone to verify this,” Hue said.

According to Hue, victims are sometimes taken in because of the prospect of financial gain. “You believe so much that you deserve a break and when such luck befalls you, it's in your nature to jump at it,” he said. “These scams are designed to manipulate our emotions.”

One way to stop scammers is to invest in training which includes the tell-tale signs of a scam and anatomy of an attack. This knowledge arms users with the understanding of the events that take place in a scam and keeps them alert, Hue said.

“There should also be training to help consumers understand legitimate websites from that of fake ones. Education should also focus on extolling the need to use a strong password and not use the same one across all of their accounts."

Hue added that businesses should also invest more in staff training. “Understand that the human link is often the weakest in the chain and this can be largely mitigated with proper training.”

Tags kaspersky labsNSW Fair TradingQantasIDC AustraliascamsNational Australia Bank Ltd (NAB)

More about Andrew Corporation (Australia)IDC AustraliaKasperskyNational Australia BankQantas

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