We have written about this in past editions of S & W Insight but we have to return to the subject as the problem just does not go away. We continue to have clients telling us about being contacted by people trying to scam them. The methods change but the aim is the same – to extract money from you any way they can.
You need to be aware of the type of scams happening at the moment. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), on their Scamwatch website, (https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/) are warning people of the different scams around at the moment. The latest, as sad as this is, are scams trying to take advantage of the current COVID-19 crisis by various means. Details of the scams are on the ACCC website above.
Also, around this time of year, you need to be aware of the online shopping scams. Fake websites, stores or sellers are common so you need to be vigilant in ensuring you are dealing with a reputable supplier.
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) also continue to warn of scams, and have a webpage dedicated to providing alerts on scams in relation to tax matters, such as ATO and tax agent impersonation. A recent and common scam involves sending you a text mentioning a refund sitting on your tax account and requesting you to click on the link and update your details so the refund can be transferred to your bank account. This is not the way the ATO work so please do not follow any instructions given by text.
The ATO recommend you phone their office on 1800 008 540 if you are in doubt about contact from someone claiming to be from the ATO. Alternatively, if you could ask the caller to contact your tax agent. If they are legitimate, they will call us and we will attend to the matter on your behalf.
Scamwatch offer some suggestions on how to protect yourself from scams. These include
- Be alert to the fact that scams exist, so always consider the possibility that an uninvited approach by phone or email could be a scam.
- Know who you’re dealing with by doing a little research. If a message or email comes from someone you know, but it seems unusual or out of character for them, contact them directly to confirm that it really came from them.
- Don’t open suspicious texts, and don’t click links or attachments in emails.
- Never respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access. Scammers often pretend to be from organisations like Telstra or Microsoft, and attempt to convince you to give them access to a computer to “fix an issue they have identified”.
- Keep your personal details secure. Scammers can use information they collect to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam, so keep your mailbox locked, shred bills and other documents, and keep your passwords secure (you might want to use an electronic solution for this, such as Lastpass).
- Review your privacy and security settings on social media.
In summary, be vigilant and be aware that scammers continue to be rife.
Kreston Stanley Williamson Team
*Correct as of May 2020
*Disclaimer – this article has been produced by Kreston Stanley Williamson as a service to its clients and associates. The information contained in the article is of general comment only and is not intended to be advice on any particular matter. Before acting on any areas contained in this article, it is imperative you seek specific advice relating to your particular circumstances. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.