Scammers are acting more professionally and fooling us more often, according to a report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) this week.
The report reveals that scammers cost Australia a total of $229 million in 2015. While the report continues to highlight the danger of romance and dating scams, a disturbing trend is the significant increase in investment fraud. Investment scams come in many forms including business ventures, superannuation schemes, managed funds and the sale or purchase of shares or property.
“It is not hard to see why many Australians are losing large sums of money in these scams given how difficult they are to identify,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
“These more sophisticated scams often involve scammers who use accurate technical jargon in carefully crafted cold calling scripts and accompany this with glossy brochures backed up by professional-looking websites. Even astute investors have been known to fall victim to these more calculated scams” Ms Rickard said.
Wise up to Scams
This week is National Consumer Fraud Week and the Federal Government is encouraging us all to ‘wise up to scams’, maintaining that education is a primary tool to combat scam activity.
To assist real estate teams in their scam-hunting activities, WCPT has prepared a quick ‘Scammer Be Gone’ checklist. Use this checklist at your next office meeting to make sure staff are aware of where scams come from and how they can be prevented.
‘Scammer Be Gone’ Checklist
- Scam Activity is on the Rise: There was a 15% increase in scams in 2015. That means that your chance of being personally or professionally impacted by scam activity increases every day. Do not wear the “it won’t happen to me” shades and miss your chance to educate yourself and your peers to the threat.
- Know Where Scams Happen: Did you know that the majority of scam activity starts with a phone call? That’s 45% of scam activity arriving via phone call or text message. 44% occurs via the web, email and social media. Use questioning techniques to check the legitimacy of a caller when you speak to them and delete any email that asks you to click a link or open an attachment. If you are unsure whether an email is legit, call the company or individual on their published contact number and check for yourself.
- Password Check: a significant number of scams make use of stolen personal data. Once a scammer has one password, they can use your personal data to access other systems and accounts, creating a giant snowball of stolen data damage. To limit the loss, check your passwords – change them regularly, do not use the same passwords for work and personal activity, do not share your passwords with others, and use different passwords for different systems.
- Small Business is a Target: In 2015, Australian small business reported close to a $3 million loss to scammers. Scams known to target small businesses include false billing scams, buying and selling scams for office supplies, overpayment scams and computer hacking to obtain personal information or install malware. Know that your business may be a target and keep an eye and an ear on contact from third parties relating to these popular scam avenues.
Don’t Forget Your CPD
The Department of Commerce has identified fraud and scam activity as a priority compliance area for 2016. Risk management relating to scam activity and fraud is therefore a central feature of this year’s mandatory CPD program. If you have not had a chance to complete your mandatory 3 point session yet, check out the times and dates we have coming up!