Know who you’re dealing with, do your research: ACCC

Consumer watchdog says scammers will “do anything” to avoid a face-to-face meeting

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning individuals and businesses alike to be wary of online scammers who try to win people’s trust before asking them for personal details or money.

As part of National Consumer Fraud Week, which starts today, the ACCC has released some tips for people to help avoid the scammers and social engineers.

Scammers will say anything to avoid a face-to-face meeting, whether it is in person or over the Internet via a video chat. If the person refuses to do a face-to-face meeting, break off contact advised the ACCC.

Scam artists steal photos and profiles from genuine LinkedIn or Facebook accounts to try and fool prospective victims.

“Run a Google Image search on photos and search words in their description to check if they’re the real deal,” said an ACCC spokesperson.

Avoid private chats as scammers will try and move the conversation away from the scrutiny of community platforms to a one-on-one interaction such as email or phone.

The ACCC said that scammers are keen to “get to know you” as much as possible, but are less forthcoming about themselves. “Ask yourself, ‘how well do I really know this person?’” said the spokeperson.

Once a connection has been made as a ‘friend’, romantic admirer or business partner, the scammer will ask for a money wire transfer. “Never wire transfer money to anyone as the payment method is untraceable,” warned the ACCC.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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