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Seniors from diverse backgrounds susceptible to scams

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram “Typical example is when they hire a plasterer or any other tradesman. First problem is – they give the person cash. And second – the tradesman leaves, without having completed a job,” Mr Bouras says.Senior Australian citizens are likely to fall victims of scamming, with elderly from diverse backgrounds being more susceptible due to language and other barriers they face, AGWS Dimitri Bouras says. “Absolutely, due to language and other factors, elderly of non-English speaking background are more likely to fall victims. It’s usually people who are widowed or live alone. I won’t go as far as to say that isolated elderly people of these communities are targeted, but I can tell you that statistically these people have a high rate of falling victims to scams,” Mr Bouras says. Bouras, who is a case worker for Australian Greek Welfare Society, says that over the last four years he has faced up to 15 cases of elderly Greek Australian who have fallen victims of scams. However, as many scams go unreported, real figures are likely to be higher. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Targeting Scams report for 2012 released on 18 June, level of scams activity in Australia continues to rise. However, contrary to popular beliefs, ACCC report found that young people and the elderly were not overrepresented in contacts. Age group from 45-54 year age comprised 19.4 per cent of the 21,116 scam-related contacts where an individual provided their age; age group from 55-64 represented 15.6 per cent, and 64 year age group 10.5 per cent. In 2012 scams were most commonly reported by persons in the 35 to 44 age category, representing 32.2 per cent of contacts, ACCC found. From the statistics that were published in ACCC report, it is not known if elderly of diverse backgrounds are more vulnerable when it comes to scamming. Media person for the ACCC told Neos Kosmos that the Commission statistics is not being break down by ethnicity. “Over the last 4 years I have had three different cases of widowed women who signed with a new energy provider and ended up receiving two different bills. What you would get as a response from victims was that they felt sorry for a young guy who knocked on their door, so they signed wanting to help him to make some money, without being explained what they were signing. Having 2 energy providers leaving 2 different bills for very little consumption can be very traumatic for Centrelink pensioner,” Mr Bouras explains. A good way to prevent this from happening, Bouras says, is a Do Not Knock Sticker, that he has been handing out to Greek Australian elderly. “The sticker is provided by Legal Aid, and it states that “unsolicited door knocking here is unlawful”. It’s a sticker that can’t be ignored and it’s a very good deterrent. Prevention is always better than cure.” Another type of scamming that Greek senior citizens face is through dealing with tradies, better known as advance fee fraud, where they are lured into handing over money in advance for a promised job. “Typical example is when they hire a plasterer or any other tradesman. First problem is – they give the person cash. And second – the tradesman leaves, without having completed a job,” Mr Bouras says. In 2012, advance fee/up-front payment scams were the most commonly reported scam type, with computer hacking remaining the second most reported. The ACCC report found that the ‘Microsoft’ computer virus scam also heavily targets Australians, while in the last year the public was also targeted by a scareware scam where the perpetrators pretended to be from the Australian Federal Police. “Non-English speaking people need to be trained and educated that they always have to have some sort of receipt or invoice in their hands, for goods and services provided. So they can actually take the case up to the consumer law or ombudsman,” Mr Bouras says. While Consumer Affairs Victoria does not record the age or ethnicity of people who contact them to report the scam, a spokesperson told Neos Kosmos there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests elderly people may be vulnerable to scams. “Elderly people are more likely to be at home and so travelling conmen and telephone scams are more likely to “catch” them, so this way they are more susceptible to scams. We also believe that elderly people tend to be polite and therefore less likely to say no to scammers,” the spokeperson said. Investment scams or so-called ‘get-rich-quick’, money transfer or ‘Nigerian scams’, fake prizes scams and chain letters are only a few of the scams going around. Some scammers will knock on your door, offering cheap deals for ‘today only’. The common denominator of all the above is to steal – your money or your personal details. The preferred delivery method of the 83,803 reported scams in 2012 was using telephone (42.3 per cent), email (23.2 per cent), text message (14.1 per cent) and internet (11.9 per cent). Mr Kirk Kantzipas, the general manager of financial crime at NAB, the team that works with relevant law enforcement authorities to shut down fraud or prevent a new one, told Neos Kosmos that, regardless of their background and age profiles, criminals will often target people. “Criminals domestically and overseas continuously attempt different methods for defrauding financial institutions and their customers,” Mr Kantzipas told Neos Kosmos. NAB’s real-time fraud detection system alerts the team to suspicious activity on customer accounts within seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “If a fraud is committed, our customers are not liable for unauthorised transactions when it’s clear they didn’t contribute to the loss.” Mr Kantzipas advised that citizens using electronic banking system should be aware of the practical steps they can take for their personal and business security, like using a range of strong, varied passwords and keeping a close eye on all account balances. “Also, remember a bank will never ask for your account details on email. If you have any suspicions you can report a scam by contacting NAB’s Fraud Assist line on 1300 622 372 or visiting your local branch,” Mr Kantzipas said. While many people don’t report scams to authorities, this practice is of huge significance for consumer protection agencies to help other people avoid similar experiences. Consumer Affairs Victoria spokeperson advised consumers always be on the alert, as scams continue to become more sophisticated, with some scammers using fake letterheads, logos and genuine-looking websites to deceive consumers and small businesses. Estimated scam losses reported to the ACCC in 2012 were $ 93,423,030 – a nine per cent increase from 2011. To learn how to recognize and deal with scam, visit ACCC’s www.scamwatch.gov.au for tips. To report a scam, contact ACCC on 1300 55 81 81 (or 131 450 for Interpreter Service), or call Consumer Affairs Victoria www.consumer.vic.gov.au For further information on electronic banking security tips, visit http://learn.nab.com.au/electronic-banking-security-tipslast_img read more

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