Bendigo police have not seen any notable increase in scam activity despite an Australian-wide jump in the number of scams being reported.
Figures in the latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Targeting Scams report show more than 200,000 reports were lodged with the ACCC and the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) last year, up 47 per cent from 2015.
Sergeant Mark Holloway said there had been no reported spike in Bendigo, but urged people to remain vigilant.
“People have to be a bit smart about what they do and how they do it,” he said.
“No government organisation will demand money or payment or personal details via email.”
The ACCC’s annual report, which was released on Monday, showed losses reported to Scamwatch and ACORN, along with other scam disruption programs, totalled almost $300 million.
More than half of those who lost money reported losing less than $500 and the average amount lost was $7226.
Sergeant Holloway said all scam activity reported to Bendigo police was followed up and referred to other authorities if needed.
“We do know that some of these scams use all the logos and appear to be from a reliable source,” he said.
“But if in doubt, delete emails. Pay attention to spelling and grammar and update and change your passwords regularly.”
Sergeant Holloway said when it came to people knocking on doors offering to fix rooftops or cut down trees, it paid to do your research.
“Get another quote and ask to see what other work they have done,” he said.
“If they’re not registered local people, you need to find out more about them.”
ACCC deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard said there was a sharp increase in 2016 in scams taking place through social media sites.
“It can be really hard to tell who’s genuine and who’s fake these days,” she said.
The most common social media scams reported to Scamwatch were dating and romance and fake trader scams.
For more information about protecting yourself, or to report a scam, visit the ACCC Scamwatch website: www.scamwatch.gov.au
Tips to protect yourself
Dating and romance scams
- Check the profile of new friend requests, especially if you have only met the person online. Look out for: new profiles with limited content; hidden friend lists or friend lists full of people of the opposite gender; profiles that read like a dating profile; grammar and spelling errors.
- Do an image search of your admirer to help determine if they really are who they say they are. You can use image search services such as Google or TinEye.
- Don’t share personal information or send money to someone you’ve never met in person.
- Be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos, especially if you’ve never met them before in person. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.
Fake trader scams
- Check reviews before buying online. Try to find how reputable a seller is by searching for reviews.
- When using retail websites, find out exactly who you are dealing with. If it’s an Australian company, you’re in a much better position to sort out the problem if something goes wrong.
- When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service. Don’t use unsecured transactions like wire transfers.
- If the product doesn’t arrive, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
Using social media
- Be careful who you connect with and don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know.
- Report profiles you suspect to be scams to the social media platform – they might be attempting to scam others too.
- Review your privacy and security settings on social media to ensure you stay safe. Take the time to understand exactly what your account shows about you to the public.
- If you have been scammed online, take steps to secure your account and be sure to report the conduct to the platform.