Scams reported to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) involving identity theft or the loss of personal/banking information have cost Australians at least $16 million in 2018 year and this figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Four in 10 Scamwatch reports to ACCC in 2019 involve attempts to gain information or the actual loss of victims’ information.
“If you think scammers might have gained access to your personal information, even in a scam completely unrelated to your finances, immediately contact your bank,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
The most common ways scammers obtain personal or banking information are:
- phishing emails and text messages which impersonate banks or utility providers seeking your login and password details
- fake online quizzes and surveys
- fake job advertisements
- remote access scams in which the scammer has direct access to everything on your computer
- sourcing information about you from social media platforms
- direct requests for scans of your driver’s license or passport, often in the course of a dating and romance scam
“No one is really selling an iPhone for $1 or rewarding the completion of a survey with expensive electronic goods or large gift vouchers. They are scams to get your confidential information,” Ms Rickard said.
With the information, scammers can empty their victim’s bank accounts and take out tens of thousands of dollars in bank loans under victims’ names.
Lost personal information also leaves victims more susceptible to future scams as scammers will use the information to seem more convincing in cold calls to perpetrate further scams.
If you have any experiences with identity theft do let me know, by email.